Sat, 12 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

U.S. warns of possible attack in Jakarta

Reuters, Jakarta

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta warned on Friday of a "possible bomb threat" at one of the leading shopping malls in Mangga Dua in northern Jakarta between March 11-14.

In a statement posted on its Web site and circulated to U.S. citizens in Indonesia by e-mail late on Friday afternoon Jakarta time, the embassy said: "Americans in Jakarta should avoid the area surrounding this facility."

The one-paragraph warning did not offer any details on what prompted the alert or who might be behind such a threat.

An embassy spokesman in Indonesia declined to elaborate. "We do not discuss specifics."

A senior Indonesian police official who did not want to be named told Reuters: "This is new information for us ... We will check it."

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been hit by several bomb attacks in recent years blamed on militants linked to al-Qaeda.

The deadliest, on nightclubs in the resort island of Bali in 2002, killed 202 people. The most recent was in September against the Australian embassy in Jakarta and killed 10.

The U.S. embassy has issued a number of warnings about possible bombings and other threats in Indonesia since the World Trade Center attacks in New York in 2001, including still- standing warnings to Americans to avoid such places as hotels, nightclubs and shopping areas popular with Westerners.

An estimated 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslims, the vast majority of them moderates.

However, since the late 1990s there have been sporadic violent clashes between Islamic and Christian groups in some parts of the country and several militant organizations have emerged.

The most prominent is Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), which has been called the Southeast Asian arm of al-Qaeda. Intelligence experts and police have blamed it for the Bali and Australian embassy attacks as well as other violence in the region.