JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's counter-terrorism police on Friday arrested six suspected militants who were allegedly planning to launch a rocket attack on downtown Singapore from nearby Batam island.
The Indonesian men were captured Friday on the Indonesian island, which is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southeast of Singapore, said National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.
He said the arrests, which included the 31-year-old alleged leader of the group, highlight the continued threat posed by extremists in Indonesia despite a sustained crackdown by authorities.
"We have strong indications that the six men were planning to launch a rocket at Singapore's Marina Bay from Batam," Amar said. He would not confirm whether an actual rocket had been found in the police raid.
Marina Bay is a busy area close to the heart of Singapore's downtown filled with office towers, waterside eateries and tourist attractions, including one of Asia's biggest casinos.
Amar said all the men claimed they were members of Katibah Gigih Rahmat, a little-known extremist group that helps Indonesian militants travel to Syria. Police believe it has received funds from Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria.
Naim has been linked to a succession of poorly executed attacks in Indonesia, including a suicide bombing outside police headquarters in the city of Solo last month that killed the bomber.
Singapore state media reported that local authorities were aware of the rocket plot.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that Singapore's security agencies had coordinated with Indonesia to monitor the activities of the group and apprehend those involved.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, suffered a spate of deadly attacks by members of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
However, in recent years, smaller and less deadly strikes have targeted government agencies, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces. Many Jemaah Islamiyah members say they no longer support violent jihad but some have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.