Bali bombing mastermind escaped deadly police siege

Tests show that dead man was not Noordin Mohammed Top, also wanted for last month's attacks on Jakarta hotels

A man killed in a 17-hour siege on Saturday was not Indonesia's most wanted militant, Noordin Mohammed Top, police said today.

Top, blamed for the Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005, which killed more than 200 people, was believed to be dead after counterterrorism officers stormed a mud-walled farmhouse in central Java.

But tests comparing the body's DNA with members of Noordin's family came back negative, said Eddy Saparwoko, the head of the national police victim identification unit.

The manhunt for Noordin intensified after he was named as the main suspect in last month's twin suicide hotel bombings in Jakarta, in which nine died and 53 were injured.

Saparwoko said the man who died in the shootout was a florist identified only as Ibrohim. He made floral arrangements at the Marriott hotel and Ritz-Carlton where the suicide bombers struck on 17 July.

Nanan Sukarna, the national police chief, identified Ibrohim as "a planner and arranger of the bombings" and said five other suspects in the blasts remained at large including Noordin.

Police showed CCTV footage where Ibrohim, who called himself Boim at work, appeared to be surveying parts of the lobby and restaurant in the hotel. He disappeared immediately after the attacks.

Ibrohim had been seen accompanying one of the suicide bombers at the hotel and had helped smuggle in bombs to room 1808 at the Marriott where they were assembled, police said. He had been a member of Jemaah Islamiyah since 2000, according to police.

Media reports quoting police sources said Top probably fled a few hours before the anti-terrorism unit raided the house. The Malaysian national, a former accountant and maths teacher, had become one of Asia's most wanted men. He is a former leader of Jemaah Islamiyah who recently formed his own splinter group allied with al-Qaida.

His campaign of violence in Indonesia began when he fled from Malaysia with Azahari Husin – killed in 2005 by the same elite unit involved in Saturday's shootout – after the 9/11 attacks to escape an expected crackdown on Islamic militants. The pair split from Jemaah Islamiyah following a disagreement over Noordin's insistence on increasingly hardline methods.


Haroon Siddique and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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