Thu, 03 Aug 2000

Bomb attack was personal: Caday

JAKARTA (JP): The blast in front of the residence of the Philippine Ambassador, Leonides T. Caday, came from a high explosive bomb, similar to the unexploded bomb found at the Attorney General's office early last month, a senior police forensic officer disclosed on Wednesday.

From Manila, Philippine Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she had personally talked with Caday and he told her that he believed the blast on Tuesday was aimed at him.

"Caday already has a suspect. He told me who he suspects but I don't want to say who...until we have corroborating evidence," Arroyo was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"Caday's belief is that this was personal... against him," Arroyo said.

As reported earlier, Caday was among the 21 people seriously injured in the blast, which took place -- according to preliminary police investigation -- shortly before the Philippine envoy entered the gate of his residence at 12:20 p.m.

The Ambassador is still being treated at Medistra Hospital in South Jakarta.

Two people, Sopyan, 30, a security guard at the ambassador's residence, and Suhantin, a housekeeper who worked at a house next to the ambassador's residence, were killed in the explosion. People heard and felt the effects of the blast in a radius of some three kilometers from the site.

According to head of the National Police Forensic Laboratory Center, Brig. Gen. M.A. Erwin Mappaseng, personnel have not yet determined the type of the explosive used in the blast but he assured that the power of the bomb was equivalent to the one found unexploded by police on July 5 at the second floor of a building in the Attorney General's Office complex.

"All we know now is that the bomb was placed behind the front seat of a car," Erwin told reporters at the site on Wednesday.

But National Police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo, before attending a cabinet meeting, told reporters that the type was TNT (trinitrotoluene) as it contained large amounts of nitrate and produced gray smoke.

Erwin identified the unregistered car as a Suzuki Katana jeep, which, according to Jakarta Police chief Brig. Gen. Nurfaizi, was placed by some unknown person directly adjacent to the entrance gate of Caday's residence on Jl. Imam Bonjol.

As a comparison, Erwin said, the bomb that exploded in the bathroom of the building in the Attorney General's Office complex a day before discovery of the second bomb was a medium-strength bomb.

Separately, Indonesia Military (TNI) Chief Adm. Widodo A.S. said that the bomb attack was "an irresponsible terrorist act".

"TNI extends condolences and deep concerns to the families of the victims and to the ambassador," Widodo told reporters before attending a Cabinet meeting.

"The Military will do all it can to help the police to investigate the case and in securing the embassies and residences of diplomats," Widodo said.

According to Gen. Rusdihardjo, he has assigned his Jakarta personnel to check guests, especially Filipinos, in every hotel in Jakarta to find those responsible for the deadly bomb blast.

"I have ordered the Jakarta Police chief (Nurfaizi) to check all guests in every hotel in Jakarta, especially those coming from our northern neighbor," Rusdihardjo told reporters.

Nurfaizi, who met the Philippine envoy a few hours after the blast, did not disclose any words from Caday.

Rusdihardjo did not rule out the possibility that the attack might have been carried out by Indonesian citizens.

The police chief said security measures at other foreign embassies in the capital would be stepped up to prevent similar incidents.

"We want to convince them that they receive good protection from Indonesia," he said.

Met separately, Nurfaizi told reporters that his men have questioned some 60 people as witnesses over the incident.

"They are the ones who saw the blast. But we don't have any clues on the motive yet," he said.

"There are several possibilities. It could be a coincidence that the blast happened near the ambassador's residence. Or it could be a decoy, we don't know yet," he added.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto said that he has ordered Army Headquarters and Jakarta Military Command to support the police in their investigation of the case.

He also said that the Army would check all of its arsenals to determine of any explosives are missing.

"We'll check our inventory of weapons and ammunition all over the country," he said.

"On thing for sure, the bombing was an act of savage terror causing fear among residents. We must work hand in hand to keep it from happening again," he added.

While officer Erwin and his forensic staff were busy collecting debris at the scene of the blast as evidence, some 50 intellectuals and activists from non-governmental organizations staged a rally at the site, condemning the bombing.

Among the rally participants were sociologist Imam B. Prasodjo, two times former minister Cosmas Batubara, and political expert Andi Malarangeng.

The rally participants carried banners, which read 'Stop violence and terrorism', and 'Join us if you love peace'.

Imam said the rally was the expression of people's revulsion of violence.

"The government is responsible to end all this violence," Imam said.

The participants in the rally then together sang 'I love peace, I hate violence' to the tune of a popular theme song from TV series Jangan Ucapkan Cinta (Don't Talk About Love).

Most of the participants of the rally brought some white flowers.

Imam said: "It's called peace-loving flower." (jaw/byg/prb/nvn)