Wed, 02 Aug 2000

Bomb hurts Manila envoy

JAKARTA (JP): While the police have yet to uncover the truth behind a bomb blast at the Attorney General's Office compound early last month, another bomb exploded outside the residence of the Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Leonides T. Caday on Jl. Imam Bonjol in Central Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon.

Two people -- Sopyan, 30, a security guard at the ambassador's residence, and an unidentified woman -- died in the blast. Another 21 people were injured, including the ambassador.

The blast was the second time in 14 years that foreign missions in the country have been targeted. The first incident in May 1986, involved three separate acts on the same day. The first at the Wisma Metropolitan building on Jl. M.H. Thamrin in Central Jakarta; the second in an eighth floor room of the President Hotel, also on Jl. M.H. Thamrin; and the third near the entrance gate of the former National Monument (Monas) Jakarta Fair Ground, also in Central Jakarta.

The room at the President Hotel was allegedly the launching site for a rocket projectile aimed at the Japanese Embassy here, while the Jakarta Fair Ground was the launch site of another projectile aimed at the U.S. Embassy.

The heavy blast on Tuesday, which was heard from a radius of one kilometer, damaged several buildings surrounding the scene, including the front windows of the National Election Commission (KPU) building, which is located directly in front of the ambassador's residence.

The blast also damaged windows in the nearby Bulgarian Embassy and at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Center.

The Philippine ambassador's blue Mercedes Benz sedan, which was parked inside the compound, was severely damaged while the windows of dozens of other cars parked in front of the KPU building were torn apart.

Leaves and tree branches were scattered across the main thoroughfare of Jl. Imam Bonjol, while an electricity pole located at the Bulgarian Embassy's entrance gate, a few meters away from the blast, was tilted.

Several pieces of debris from the Bulgarian Embassy building damaged portions of a house belonging to a man identified as Ferry Martono, which is located on the right side of the bombed residence. They also shattered the windows of 21 vans parked at the KPU headquarters and destroyed the roof and several portions of the residence of City Council Speaker Edy Waluyo.

A battered and burned Koperasi taxi stood outside Edy's residence, the registration plates of which were damaged and unreadable.

A police source said that another white Taft jeep, which had the registration number B 8149 ER, must have crashed into the taxi when the blast occurred.

"The blast blew off an arm of the taxi driver, who remains unidentified and is currently receiving treatment at the Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital. He might turn out to be an important witness," a source said.

An iron gate, which separated the Bulgarian Embassy and the Philippines ambassador's residence, was ruined while the blast also severely damaged the front side of the two buildings.

The blast created a huge hole in the ground right outside the entrance gate and destroyed a water pipe, sending water gushing from the site.

Even as police detectives cannot confirm the presence of TNT (the flammable toxic compound trinitrotoluene) in the bomb, a Mobile Detective (Resmob) source said the powerful blast indicated as much.

Between Ferry Martono's residence and the residence of the Philippine envoy is located a small foodstall tended by a woman identified as Siti Maesaroh.

Siti was nowhere to be found at the site. Some sources believed the unidentified dead woman was Siti, but there was no confirmation of this from the Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital morgue.

Next to the foodstall is a door, which opens to a shack where Siti probably lived.

Behind the door, police found personal items of Siti, including a letter issued by Central Jakarta Police Headquarters, No. Pol. 492/P.4/XII/1999/Restro JP, which one police source said was a summons.

On the back of the letter, in large, rough handwriting, the following words were written:

"In all matters, we have been trodden upon, but we are not trapped! We do not know what else to do, but we have not been left alone. We have been tortured, treated like animals".

Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Nurfaizi said a Suzuki Katana jeep had probably been placed in front of the entrance gate of the ambassador's residence for the purpose of being exploded.

"As soon as the ambassador's Mercedes Benz reached the home and was about to enter, the bomb went off, injuring both passengers (driver and ambassador) in the car," Nurfaizi told reporters at the blast scene.

"It's possible that the driver of the Suzuki jeep is the alleged bomber. The ambassador had left his office (on Jl. Imam Bonjol 6-8) at about 12:15 p.m. in his car. He had made his mind to lunch at his residence. Upon reaching the entrance gate, the bomb went off."

A police source said he was sure the van which was blown to pieces in the blast was a Suzuki Carry, and not a Suzuki Katana.

An eyewitness, who requested anonymity, however said that it was a black Kijang van.

The burned engine of the jeep with No. F10A703342 lay strewn around the bombed residence. City traffic police confirmed that the jeep turned out to be unregistered.

Solikin, a staffer at KPU, said he was chatting with one of his friends when the bomb exploded.

"It occurred at around 12.25 p.m. I was very surprised as the blast sounded very loud," he said.

Hendrawan, an employee at nearby Bank Bumi Daya building, said he was on the building's fifth floor when the explosion occurred.

A security guard at Edy Waluyo's house in front of the ambassador's residence, Dedek, said the flames which rose from the explosion were very powerful.

"The fire almost reached my face. One of my friends, Idup Gandhi, who was about to open the gate was severely injured in his hand," Dedek told the Post, citing that he was sitting at the house's security post when the bomb exploded.

An official statement from the Embassy of the Philippines said Ambassador Leonides and his driver Eben Eiser were rushed to the Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Central Jakarta after the blast.

"The ambassador's condition was not dangerous but the local driver appeared to be in a critical condition," said the statement.

Nurfaizi said Ambassador Leonides was receiving medical treatment at the Medistra Hospital in South Jakarta and Idup Gandhi had been transferred to the Army's Gatot Soebroto Hospital in Central Jakarta while the other 19 injured, including the ambassador's driver, another Embassy staffer identified as Viernes Ricardo, a taxi driver and a child were being treated at the Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital.

A police source said the bomb was probably remote-controlled.

A statement from the City Police stated that Menteng Police subprecinct detectives were questioning eight witnesses who were identified as Ismail, Kasiman, Ali Topan, Mirda, Syarifudin Nur, Zulkarnaen, Maisaroh and Wah Fuji. (asa/dja/jaw/lup/ylt)