Noordin Top
AP
Malaysian terror suspect Noordin Top, in an undated photo originally released by Indonesian police on Nov. 3, 2003.
updated 4/28/2006 11:59:16 PM ET 2006-04-29T03:59:16

One of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorists escaped capture when police raided his hideout Saturday, but two Islamic militants were killed and three others arrested, police said.

Noordin Top, regarded as a key leader of the al-Qaida-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, fled before heavily armed officers arrived at his safe house before dawn, police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bahrul Alam told El Shinta radio.

Authorities started staking out the location in Binangun, a village in Central Java, three months ago, “but when they launched their raid at around 3 a.m., he was gone,” Alam said, as he headed to the scene by helicopter from the capital, Jakarta.

Noordin was accused of direct involvement in at least four terror attacks: the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists; two bombings in Jakarta in 2003 and 2004 that took 23 lives; and an Oct. 1 suicide attack on Bali that caused 20 more deaths.

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