SOLO, Indonesia – An explosion and gunfire rocked a besieged village house in central Indonesia where counterterrorism forces hunted Thursday for suspects in twin suicide bombings in the capital in July, witnesses and officials said.
Police cordoned off a neighborhood late Wednesday in a suburb of the Central Java city of Solo, a stronghold for hardline Islamist groups, and shots rang out through the night, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.
An explosion went off around daybreak Thursday and an ambulance was seen driving away.
Police had said a special forces operation was unfolding, but declined to give details. They could not be reached to comment on local television reports that several people were injured, including police officers.
"I ran out of my house in fear when I heard the gunfire," said Widjan, a neighbor, who like many Indonesian goes by one name.
The besieged property was rented several months ago by a young couple, and the two work as teachers at an Islamic boarding school and a kindergarten, local village chief Suratim said.
Police were searching for key suspects believed to be hiding at the house, an official with the counterterrorism force said. Backup units with anti-explosives equipment were deployed, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to talk to the media.
The raid comes as police continue a massive manhunt for perpetrators of attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta on July 17. The blasts killed seven people and wounded more than 50, ending nearly four years without terrorist strikes in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.
Several suspects have been detained or gunned down in raids in recent weeks, but the alleged terrorist mastermind, Malaysian fugitive Noordin Muhammad Top, remains at large. Police are also still searching for several militant operatives believed to have planned the operation and recruited the bombers.
Noordin allegedly leads a breakaway group of the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, which carried out a string of bombings in Indonesia in recent years with the support of Al Qaeda.
Terrorist attacks have killed 250 people in Indonesia since 2002, most of them in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing that left more than 200 people dead, most of them foreign tourists.