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Thursday, September 09, 2004

BBC > Massive blast at Jakarta embassy

Seven people have been killed and about 100 injured in a massive blast outside the Australian embassy in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.
Jakarta's police chief said the blast was possibly caused by a suicide car bombing.
The BBC's Rachel Harvey says it left a large crater in the ground and damaged buildings and motor vehicles.
Helicopters, ambulances and police units are now at the site, in Kuningan, a district to the south of the city.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the blast was a terrorist attack directed at Australia.
December 2000 - Christian churches bombings kill 19
October 2002 - Bali attacks kill 202, many Australian
December 2002 - Blast at McDonald's in Sulawesi kills three
August 2003 - Bomb at Marriott Hotel in Jakarta kills 13
September 2004 - Bomb outside Australian embassy in Jakarta
"It is clearly a terrorist attack, it was outside the Australian embassy, you would have to conclude that it was directed towards Australia," Mr Downer told reporters in Adelaide.
This view was echoed by Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, who said the attack is "certainly a terrorist act", Reuters news agency reports.
Mr Downer is due to travel to Jakarta later on Thursday with police bomb experts and medical staff.
Indonesia's President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, who was attending a royal wedding in neighbouring Brunei, has cut short her stay and is returning to Jakarta, officials said.
Business district
Seven people were killed in the attack, police and hospital officials say.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard told a news conference in Melbourne "the evidence today indicates that it was a car bomb".
Mr Howard said all embassy staff had been accounted for.

He said the identity of the fatalities could not be certain, adding they may have been local security personnel or passers-by.
Witnesses and reporters say they saw at least three bodies lying lifeless after the blast, which happened at about 1030 local time (0330 GMT).
Our correspondent says the embassy itself, in one of Jakarta's most exclusive and busiest business districts, is well protected by a security fence, and reports from inside suggest it did not sustain a lot of damage.
The centre of the blast was the road just in front of the embassy, but office blocks on either side of the eight-lane highway have been severely damaged.
A huge crowd of onlookers has massed, and plumes of smoke are rising into the air above the site of the blast.
There are gaping holes where windows have been blown out. Glass, concrete and metal lie strewn across the ground.
The mangled remains of cars and motorbikes litter the area. Many were apparently lifted up into the air by the force of the blast, our correspondent says.
The police have now sealed off the area to allow investigators to sift through the debris looking for evidence.
Bloody history
Our correspondent says Western embassies recently raised their security alerts, saying that they had credible intelligence that an attack on the Indonesian capital was planned.
It looks now as though their worst fears may have been realised, she says.
In August 2003, 12 people including the suicide bomber died in a bomb blast outside Jakarta's Marriott hotel - close to the spot of Thursday's explosion.
In October 2002, 202 people died in twin bombings on the island of Bali. Most of the dead were Australian.
Indonesia's financial markets went into a tailspin after news of the attack emerged, with both shares and the currency sliding.
The militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah is widely blamed for both bombings, and our correspondent says it is likely to be the primary suspect behind this suspected attack.
This explosion has come at a particularly sensitive time for Indonesia as the second and final round of presidential elections are due on 20 September, she says.
Until now security and terrorism have not been major campaign issues, but that will almost certainly change now, she says.
It also comes exactly a month before Australia holds a general election on 9 October. The threat of a terrorist attack on Australia has already been a campaign issue.
Were you near the embassy when the explosion occurred? Are you in Jakarta now or thinking about going there? Send us your comments and experiences on the form below
Your comments
My office is quite close - less than 1 KM. I clearly heard the blast and our building shook although far enough away not to sustain damage. I was scheduled to have lunch nearby but I cancelled !!
Tony Beale, Jakarta, Indonesia
Luckily I was not near the embassy during this incident. I have lived in Jakarta on and off for the last 5 years. In a previous job, my office was directly opposite the Australian embassy. Obviously I was quite concerned about ex-colleagues, after calling them I was relieved to learn that there were no injuries and only minor damage to the building.
David Turner, Jakarta, Indonesia
I was in my office around 5 km from the bomb location. When it went off, I heard a loud blast and the glass windows trembled. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a bomb. The question was where... Everyone immediately grabbed their phones, land lines and cell phones to call people they knew for information and check the whereabouts of loved ones.
Naomi Jamarro, Jakarta, Indonesia
We were having a meeting at our office...approximately 1 km from the site when we heard a big blast! We looked out of the window and saw a big cloud of white smoke arising from the Kuningan area! We were on the 27th floor.
Erina, Jakarta, Indonesia
Story from BBC NEWS: /pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia -pacific/3639922.stm

Published: 2004/09/09 07:45:31 GMT


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