|Bomb Kills 9, Wounds
160 in Jakarta
Indonesia — A car
bomb exploded outside the gates of the Australian
Embassy in Jakarta on Thursday, killing nine people and wounding scores
in an attack police blamed on Al Qaeda-linked terrorists.
The blast flattened the embassy's
gate, mangled cars on the busy
commercial street and shattered the windows of nearby high-rise
buildings. Dazed survivors desperately tried to locate colleagues
"I can't find my family," said Suharti, who had eight relatives working in the mission. "I am terrified. I don't know where they are. "
Most of the nine killed in the
10:15 a. m. blast were Indonesian
policemen, embassy security guards and passers-by. Health
said 160 were injured — mainly office workers from nearby buildings who
were cut by flying shards of glass and debris.
Australian Embassy spokeswoman
Elizabeth O'Neill said the staff was
shocked by the force of the bomb and "the enormity of the crater" left
"The police truck outside has been
blown to bits. It's like the wind
has been pushed out of you," O'Neill told Australia's Nine TV Network.
Police chief Gen. Dai Bachtiar said an initial investigation showed the blast was caused by a car bomb, but "we do not know whether anyone was in the car. "
About a dozen Australians were
slightly injured, mostly by flying
glass, an Australian Embassy spokeswoman said. Four Chinese
also were injured, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said.
In Athens, Greek foreign ministry
spokesman Giergos Koumoutsakos
said the Greek Embassy on the 12th floor of an adjacent building was
gutted and three diplomats were slightly injured.
Police immediately blamed Jemaah
Islamiyah (^), the Southeast Asian terror network that is linked
to Al Qaeda (^).
The group has been accused in several deadly bombings, including the
bombing of the JW Marriott hotel in the same neighborhood last year, in
which 12 people were killed.
In recent years, Indonesia has been
hit by a series of deadly
bombings of Western targets by militants belonging to Jemaah
In 2002, 202 people — including 88 Australians — died in an attack on
two nightclubs on the tourist island of Bali.
Bachtiar said Thursday's bombing
bore the hallmark of Jemaah Islamiyah, similar to the Bali and Marriott
"We can conclude (the perpetrators)
are the same group," he said.
Australian forensics experts who
worked on those blasts traveled to Indonesia on Thursday.
Australian Federal Police
commissioner Mick Keelty said Australian
police were setting up a joint investigation team with their Indonesian
counterparts, but the Indonesians would lead the inquiry.
The embassy is located on a main
thoroughfare in the Kuningan
district housing foreign embassies, businesses and shopping
Bloody corpses and human remains were strewn across the six-lane
After the blast, the Australian
Embassy closed until further notice,
along with the consulate in Bali. Nonessential staff and
were given the option of going home.
Indonesian President Megawati
Sukarnoputri (^) was
in neighboring Brunei on Thursday at a royal wedding but cut short her
stay. She toured the bomb site and two hospitals where most of
victims were being treated.
"Let us all condemn what has been done by (terrorists), because we have seen there are so many innocent victims," Megawati said. "I ask all the Indonesian people to unite in fighting terrorism. "
The bombing came as authorities
prepared to press charges against jailed cleric Abu Bakar Bashir
(^), who has been accused by police of heading Jemaah Islamiyah and
playing a role in the Marriott bombing.
Bashir has denied any involvement
in terrorism and claims that
Jakarta buckled under U. S. pressure to arrest him as part of a
crackdown on Islamic activists in the world's most populous Muslim
Bashir condemned the attack but
predicted he would be blamed for it.
"I'm very upset. I'm against all bombings like this," Bashir said, according to his lawyer, Mahendradata, who visited the cleric in jail shortly after the blast. "But (the authorities) will still use this to attack me. In their desperation, they will accuse me for this attack just like they have the others. "
Bachtiar said the bombing may have
been the work of Azahari Husin, a
British-trained Malaysian engineer who has eluded capture for nearly
three years. Husin, one of Asia's most-wanted men and a Jemaah
Islamiyah member, has been linked to other bombings in Indonesia,
including the Bali blasts.
Several Western embassies,
including those of the United States and
Australia, have warned their citizens recently about possible attacks
by Muslim militants.
On Thursday, the U. S.
mission renewed the warning, urging Americans
to stay away from the Kuningan district, where the blast occurred.
Indonesian security forces have
arrested about 150 people over the
Marriott and Bali attacks. More than 50 defendants have been
so far — including three sentenced to death.
Thursday's bomb blast came
two days before the third anniversary of
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. It also
with the Indonesian presidential campaign. Two secular
the incumbent and her former security minister — are running for the
top post in the Sept. 20 ballot.