A suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy police station in Indonesia's third largest city on Wednesday, injuring at least six people, during a counterterrorism crackdown and a warning about possible attacks against police and houses of worship.
The attacker got past a guard post and into the yard of the Medan city police station, which was packed with people who were lining up to get various police certificates, said National Police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal.
Iqbal said the attacker detonated his explosives and died near a parking lot after being confronted by other officers, injuring at least four police and two civilians. They were rushed to a nearby police hospital, most with minor injuries.
Television footage showed people running out of the police station and black smoke billowing from a burnt car. Witnesses said the mangled body of the attacker was taken for further identification as an anti-bomb squad secured the location.
Another police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, said security procedures had been in place for accepting visitors to the police station, but the attacker ignored police when they tried to check his backpack and tried to reach a nearby canteen inside the station complex when his explosive blasted up to 50 meters (164 feet) from the post.
Prasetyo said that police were still investigating the attack, which came as Indonesia's counterterrorism force worked to root out suspected Islamic militants following last month's assault by a knife-wielding militant couple who wounded Indonesia's top security minister.
More than 40 suspects have been detained by the counterterrorism squad, known as Densus 88, in several provinces, including ones captured on Tuesday, Prasetyo said. The sweep followed a tipoff about possible attacks against police and places of worship in several areas.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been battling militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces and local "infidels."
In May last year, two families carried out suicide bombings at churches in Indonesia's second-largest city, Surabaya, killing a dozen people and two young girls whose parents had involved them in one of the attacks. Police said the father of the two girls was the leader of a cell in a larger militant network that claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.
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