JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police shot dead five suspected militants in Bali overnight who had identified and surveyed targets they were planning to attack, the national counter terrorism agency said on Monday, and were linked to the banned Jemaah Islamiah group.
"They have several targets in several locations in Bali. They have surveyed the places," Ansyaad Mbai, head of national counter-terrorism agency, told Reuters by phone.
Mbai described the sites as "typical terrorist targets" but declined to give further details. The group to which the suspects belonged was linked to one that had conducted bank robberies in Medan and paramilitary training in Aceh and in Solo, central Java, he said.
In 2002, night-club bombings in Bali blamed on the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah killed more than 200 people, many of them Australian tourists.
That attack was 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.
Australian media reported that Indonesia's counter-terror police unit known as Detachment 88 stormed two separate addresses on Bali, in the capital Denpasar and at a hotel in Sanur, on Sunday night.
Three men were killed at the hotel in Sanur, an area popular with foreign tourists, and two at the Denpasar location, media said, quoting Australian Associated Press. (AAP)
"Last night we have paralyzed 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," he said.
He said the five had been followed and were about to rob a foreign exchange bureau and a gold shop when police intervened, he said.
Police confiscated two rifles, two ammunition magazines, 48 bullets and a balaclava, he said.
National police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution said: "This is an Islamic militant group, a splinter group of Jemaah Islamiah who established a training camp in Aceh."
"They were trying to do a heist because they want to collect money for their fight," he said.
AAP 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, AAP 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 U.S. 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.