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Indonesia arrests 8 more in Myanmar Embassy plot

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August 21, 2013 07:58 AM EST | AP

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's elite anti-terrorism squad arrested eight more suspected militants, including a former convicted terrorist, in connection with a plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy to protest that country's treatment of Muslims, police said Wednesday.

Authorities have now arrested a total of 14 suspects since May in the plot to bomb the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital.

Iqbal Hussaini, who was released from prison in 2008 after serving eight years for the attempted murder of a prominent moderate Muslim man and a Catholic priest, was captured late Tuesday in the eastern Jakarta area of Cipayung, said National Police spokesman Col. Agus Rianto.

Police also arrested three men who were found at Hussaini's house and were questioning them to determine their possible links to terrorism, Rianto said. Police seized two guns, two air guns and some ammunition from the house.

Another police spokesman, Lt. Col. Rikwanto, said four other suspected militants were arrested at about the same time in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, including Khoirul Ikhwan, a fugitive who allegedly planned the attack on the embassy.

Police seized two pistols, three magazines and about 70 bullets from the group. The arrest Sunday of another suspect in the embassy plot, Muhammad Zakaria, who was captured in Tangerang, just west of Jakarta, had led police to their whereabouts, said Rikwanto, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

"We have strong indications that they are part of a cell that planned to attack the Myanmar Embassy," Rikwanto said, adding that the group allegedly was involved in two suicide attacks at a church in Central Java's Solo city and a police headquarters in the West Java town of Cirebon.

In early May, police arrested two suspected militants, Achmad Taufiq and Sefa Riano, in downtown Jakarta, and seized five homemade bombs from a backpack they were carrying. Other explosive materials were found later at their rented house in southern Jakarta. The two told authorities they wanted to retaliate against Myanmar for recent attacks there on Rohingya Muslims.

Since then, police have arrested 12 more suspects in the embassy plot, including Rohadi, who was believed to be the group's leader, and Sigit Indrajit, who authorities said was to be the suicide bomber for the attack.

Sectarian violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar has killed scores of people, and tens of thousands of Muslims have been driven from their homes.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has seen a spate of deadly attacks by members of Jemaah Islamiyah, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. However, in recent years, smaller and less deadly strikes have been targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces.