JAKARTA, Indonesia – A suspected militant was critically injured when a bomb apparently being prepared for a terrorist attack exploded in a house near Indonesia's capital, police said Sunday. At least three other people living nearby were injured along with two suspects who fled.
An elite anti-terror squad was searching for the two men who escaped after the strong blast late Saturday in Depok, a town on the outskirts of Jakarta, said National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Anang Iskandar. The explosion came just days after police raided another home in Jakarta where similar bomb-making materials were found in connection with a terrorist group that allegedly plotted to kill police and bomb the country's Parliament.
"The government strongly deplores and condemns those who caused such an explosion," Djoko Suyanto, a top security minister, told reporters Sunday, adding that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had been informed while attending a Pacific Rim summit in Vladivostok, Russia. "The president has ordered the hunt for the two suspects who fled the blast scene, and that's what we are doing."
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said the two suspects were severely wounded in their hands, and he warned the public to be on the lookout for anyone with such injuries.
Iskandar said police at the site found a badly injured man whose left hand had been cut off. Bomb-making devices were found scattered around him.
"We suspect he was making bombs when one of them detonated prematurely," Capt. Agus Widodo, a local police chief in Depok, told reporters at the scene. "His condition is critical. We cannot talk to him."
He said the man also suffered burns over up to 70 percent of his face and body.
The house had been rented for the past month and was listed as an orphanage foundation office and herbal clinic, but was never opened to the public.
Police questioned five people living near the house, including two injured men and a woman with slight wounds to her head.
They said they saw two men flee on a motorbike just after the blast, and that one managed to jump a fence even though he appeared wounded, Widodo said.
"It was actually a militant safe house from evidence found there," Widodo said.
Police seized six pipe bombs, three grenades, two machine guns and a Beretta pistol, Iskandar said in a text message. A bomb squad team was investigating the explosives, which were packed with nails to maximize impact.
The incident came amid a security crackdown in recent days in which two militants were killed and three others arrested. Last week, police found bomb-making materials at another home in Jakarta where suspected bomb maker Muhammad Toriq lived, but he managed to escape when police raided the house.
Iskandar said there was a resemblance between Toriq and the man in critical condition. He said police would conduct a DNA test to determine if the identities matched, adding that explosives found in Depok were similar to the homemade bombs discovered at Toriq's home.
Toriq is believed to be linked to a militant group that planned to shoot police and bomb the Parliament building to wage "holy war" and establish an Islamic state.
Indonesia, a secular nation with more Muslims than any other in the world, has been battling terrorists since 2002, when militants linked to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah started attacking Western nightclubs, restaurants and embassies.
More than 260 people have been killed, many of them foreign tourists.
Recent terror attacks in Indonesia have been carried out by individuals or small groups and have targeted local "infidels" instead of Westerners, with less deadly results.