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Indonesian police have stormed a house in central Java believed to contain one of South-East Asia's most wanted men

 
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08/08/2009 05:26 AM
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Indonesian police have stormed a house in central Java believed to contain one of South-East Asia's most wanted men
Indonesian police have stormed a house in central Java believed to contain one of South-East Asia's most wanted men.

The move came after a stand-off lasting 17 hours which included exchanges of gunfire and several explosions.

Local media have reported that the man, Noordin Mohamed Top, was killed, however there has been no confirmation from the police.

Noordin, a Malaysian citizen, is suspected of involvement in last month's bombings of two Jakarta hotels.

Police said the anti-terror operation in the Temanggung district followed the arrest on Friday of several suspected militants loyal to Noordin.

In a separate incident, police said they had killed two suspected militants in a raid on a house in the Bekasi area, near the capital.

Five others were arrested and up to 500kg of explosives were seized.

Gen Bambang Hendarso Danuri said the two men had been shot because they were about to detonate hand-held bombs.

They were would-be suicide bombers from a cell loyal to Noordin who were preparing to attack "special targets" in two weeks, he added.

Workshop raid

Almost a day after surrounding it, members of Indonesia's elite anti-terrorism unit entered the remote house in a rice paddy field outside Temanggung at 0945 (0245 GMT) by blowing in one of the doors.

Several minutes later, after further explosions and exchanges of gunfire, officers were seen leaving with their helmets off and shaking hands with each other.

Police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said police believed Noordin and two or three of his followers were inside, but could not say whether they had been killed or injured.

The authorities have closed off the area, but ambulances were later seen arriving and two body bags were taken from inside the building, according to the AFP news agency.

On Friday evening, Mr Soekarna said two men had been arrested in a workshop in a market in Temanggung, and that they had led police to the house nearby, as well as the building in Bekasi.

Noordin was accused of being the key recruiter and financier for the regional Islamist militant group, Jemaah Islamiah.

He is thought to have been behind bomb attacks on the Jakarta Marriott in 2003 and the Australian embassy in 2004, and also on a series of restaurants in Bali in 2005 in which more than 20 died.

A lull in attacks since 2005 came to an end in July with the suicide bombings on two hotels in Jakarta that killed nine people and wounded 53, raising concerns that Noordin was becoming active again.

Correspondents say the search for Noordin has focused on central Java because he is believed to have a network of sympathisers there.

He is the Indonesian police's main target and there is a $100,000 (£59,000) reward for information leading to his capture.

[link to news.bbc.co.uk]