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Indonesia police shoot dead 5 suspected militants in Bali.

Indonesian police shot dead five suspected militants on the resort island of Bali overnight who had identified and surveyed targets for attack, the national counter terrorism agency said on Monday.

The group was linked to the banned Jemaah Islamiah group, blamed for nightclub bombings on Bali in 2002 that killed more than 200 people, mostly Australian tourists, said officials.

The suspected militants had identified "typical terrorist targets", said Ansyaad Mbai, head of national counter-terrorism agency, but he declined to give further details.

"They have several targets in several locations in Bali. They have surveyed the places," Mbai told Reuters.

The 2002 Bali attacks were a watershed for Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, forcing the secular state to confront the presence of violent militants on its soil.

Police said the suspected militants were about to stage armed robberies, to fund their cause, when they were killed in gunfights with police. The militants' group was linked to one that had conducted bank robberies in Medan.

"This is an Islamic militant group, a splinter group of Jemaah Islamiah who established a training camp in Aceh," said national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution.

"They were trying to do a heist because they want to collect money for their fight," he said.

The five were about to rob a foreign exchange bureau and a gold shop, armed with two rifles, two ammunition magazines, 48 bullets and a balaclava, said police.

"Last night we have paralysed five criminal perpetrators who were planning to commit terrorist acts and rob foreign currency and gold shops in several locations in Bali," national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told Reuters.

"All the suspects died during the raids because they defied or shot back with pistols at the police officers," said Amar.

Australian media quoted another senior police officer as saying it was possible the group had been planning to carry out attacks on Thursday, the eve of Nyepi, or the annual Day of Silence marking Bali's Hindu New Year.

Balinese traditionally hold large parades on the eve of Nyepi, which also draws large numbers of tourists, AP said.

The killings follow the start of a trial last month of an Islamist militant accused of making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali nightclubs attack.

Umar Patek, who was captured in the same Pakistan town where US forces killed Osama bin Laden, is also accused of mixing chemicals for 13 bombs that detonated in five churches in Jakarta on Christmas Eve, 2000, killing about 15 people.

Security officials say he belonged to Jemaah Islamiah.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Mar 19, 2012
Words:439
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