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August 9, 2009

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Indonesia believes top militant killed in siege

INDONESIAN police shot dead a man suspected to be leading Islamic militant Noordin Mohammad Top after an 18-hour siege in Central Java and planned to confirm his identity using DNA tests, police said yesterday.

In a separate raid they foiled a plot to attack Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's residence outside the capital, Jakarta, with a car bomb, officials said.

Malaysian-born Top is a prime suspect in last month's near simultaneous suicide attacks on Jakarta's JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels which killed nine people and wounded 53.

Police said two men believed to be Top's bodyguards had been arrested on Friday at a workshop in a market in the village of Temanggung, 400 kilometers southeast of Jakarta, and led them to a small, red-roofed house where there was a shoot-out and overnight standoff with suspected militants.

Yesterday, after sporadic exchanges of gunfire, explosions shook the house followed by further shooting. TV footage showed police carrying items from inside the house and laughing and shaking hands with colleagues.

A body was brought out and put in a wooden coffin.

A body that may be Top's was being flown from Central Java to a Jakarta police hospital for identification, the state Antara news agency quoted Yogyakarta Police Chief Sunaryono as saying.

Police planned to seek a DNA sample from the family of Top to confirm his death after a shoot-out in Central Java, national Police Chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri said.

"We welcome if the family, the wife wants to see the face. If this is Noordin Top then please let us check the DNA. Then we can say who this is," he said.

"I think this is very significant. Hopefully the person in Temanggung is Noordin," said a police spokesman.

The militants planned a suicide car bomb attack on the Bogor residence of President Yudhoyono, Danuri said.

He added that they planned to use a minibus packed with explosives to target Yudhoyono, holding him responsible for the execution of the Bali bombers.


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