- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The capital of Indonesia was rocked by a series of explosions and an ensuing gun battle that still hadn’t ended Thursday afternoon, as witnesses compared the scene to the recent Paris attacks.

At least three people were killed in the upscale Sarinah shopping center area of Jakarta, which is near the presidential palace, according to multiple news outlets.

“The Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road. There has been a lull in the shooting but someone is on the roof of the building and police are aiming their guns at him,” a Reuters photographer said.

Anton Charliyan, a Jakarta police spokesman, told Agence France-Presse that four people were killed — one police officer and three civilians.

“For now the gunfire has stopped but they are still on the run, we are afraid there will be more gunshots,” he said.

The shopping center is in a neighborhood dotted with foreign embassies and luxury hotels frequented by foreigners — all prime targets for terrorists.

Tri Seranto, a bank security guard in the neighborhood, told The Associated Press that he saw three suicide bombers attack the Starbucks, blowing themselves up one by one.

Two other attackers, armed with guns, entered a nearby police station and started a gunfight, according to Mr. Seranto, who said he saw one policeman dead and three others badly wounded. The two gunmen ran away with police in pursuit, he said.

According to The New York Times, video footage “showed a series of explosions, possibly car bombs, in a parking lot across the street from the police post beginning at 10:40 a.m. local time.”

Jeremy Douglas, a regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said on Twitter that he heard six explosions and that people suspected Islamist terrorists.

“Folks in office saying think it is a type supporters attack,” he wrote.

Indonesia is the world’s most-populous predominantly Muslim country, with estimates of around 250 million people in 2015. It has been victimized by several major Islamist ttacks, both on natives and foreigners, most notoriously the October 2002 Bali bombings that killed 200 people, many of them Australian tourists.

Mr. Douglas said the first blast took place about 100 meters from his office and police were ordering people away from windows.

He also heard “a serious exchange of [gun]fire in the street,” the likes of which he hadn’t even heard when stationed in Pakistan.

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