Fri, 10 Jan 2003

Fifth terrorist training camp found in South Sulawesi

Jupriadi, The Jakarta Post, Makassar, South Sulawesi

Police here said on Thursday they uncovered another military- style training camp suspected to belong to the group of Agung Abdul Hamid, the alleged mastermind of last month's bombing in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar.

The camp was found near the Towuti Lake area in Luwu regency, some 500 kilometers from Makassar, which borders South Sulawesi and the provinces of Central Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi.

South Sulawesi Police chief detective Sr. Comr. Achmad Abdi told The Jakarta Post that the newly discovered camp was allegedly used by the Makassar bombing suspects for training in shooting and assembling bombs.

"The place around Towuti Lake is rather specific because there are indications that it hosts shooting and bomb-making training," he said.

Achmad said at least three of the detained suspects, Muchtar Daeng Lau, Ilham and Anton, had confessed they once held training programs at the Towuti Lake camp.

The police had earlier found four similar camps across South Sulawesi, which they also believe belonged to the Agung-led bombers.

The four trainings camps were spotted in the regencies of Enrekang, Palopo, Luwu and Bulukumba, some between 250 kilometers and 500 kilometers from Makassar.

Achmad said the police believe the five camps, including the Towuti Lake base, were connected. He did not give more details.

"The police are gathering data for further investigation into those camps," he said.

Achmad said that based on confessions by the suspects, between 20 and 30 people used to take part in trainings in each camp.

Instructors for those camps were likely brought in from the southern Philippines and Afghanistan, according to information and statements from the suspects, he said on Monday.

However, he qualified his previous statement on Thursday saying the police had not yet determined whether foreigners were involved in training activities in the camps.

Achmad also said it was certain that six of the 18 suspects -- Muchtar, Usman, Masnur, Suryadi, Agung Hamid and Hisbullah Rasyid -- had been trained in the southern Philippines.

"Suryadi even attended training programs there on five different occasions," he added. One suspect, Muchtar, had once trained in Pakistan, too, Achmad said.

The police have named 21 suspects in the Dec. 5 bombings that killed three people and injured 11 others. Four of them -- Agung Hamid, Hisbullah Rasyid, Dahlan and Mirzal -- remain at large, however.

Key suspects in the Makassar attacks are alleged to have links with the suspected Bali bombers, who killed more than 190 people, mostly Westerners, last October.

Police have tied the Bali suspects with the regional Jamaah Islamiyah militant group that has been blacklisted by the United Nations.