Sat, 19 Jul 2003

Fingerprint found on bomb fragment

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Police found on Friday a number of intact fingerprints on fragments of the bomb that exploded the national legislative complex in Jakarta on Monday.

"From the analysis at the blast site, we've made significant progress in unraveling the mystery behind the bombing. We have obtained several complete fingerprints," National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar told reporters after Friday prayers.

The police would now match these fingerprints with those contained in the police databank. If no match was found, investigators would try to match them with those of persons suspected of possibly being involved in the blast.

Da'i's statement was in marked contrast, however, to an earlier statement made by Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Prasetyo.

Prasetyo said that the police were facing difficulties in finding any fingerprints as only tiny fragments of the device were left.

The bomb went off at the western end of the Nusantara IV building in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR)/House of Representatives (DPR) compound in Senayan, Central Jakarta. No fatalities resulted but the explosion broke several windows nearby.

Separately, police also found a black bag on Friday that it was feared contained a bomb at the DPR Housing Complex in Kalibata, South Jakarta.

South Jakarta Police detectives' chief Comr. Merdisyam said the bag was secured by the police bomb squad.

Later on Friday, Prasetyo said that the bag contained only books and some keys.

In addition to the fingerprints, Da'i said police had identified one of the substances contained in the bomb, which had been impregnated with 15 centimeter nails.

"This material is rarely found in the civilian arena ... We are currently checking not only with the military, but also with drilling and airline companies about the use of the substance," he said.

Da'i, however, failed to say what the substance was.

Police were still reluctant to point the finger at any particular group as being responsible for the bombing.

"Just wait and see ... just like with the Bali bombings. We got to one of the groups involved and then we managed to shed light to the network," said Da'i.

Nevertheless, the police said earlier that they were still hunting for the live bombs that were reportedly transported by one of the nine alleged members of the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network from Semarang to Jakarta.

Police are so far in the dark as to the whereabouts of the explosives as the man who was believed to have transported them, identified as Ikhwanuddin alias Asim, allegedly committed suicide during police interrogation.

The suicide, however, remains a mystery as the police are persisting in their refusal to identify where Ikhwanuddin was interrogated.

Police believe that JI was behind the Bali bombings, which claimed 202 lives.

In a related development, Da'i also said that the police were further tightening security in the country following the escape of Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi, a suspected JI leader who is also known to be a bomb expert, from the Camp Crame prison in the Philippines.

"We have discussed the matter with the Malaysian police so that the necessary measures can be taken following Al-Ghozi's escape," he said.

Commenting on the report by Singapore-based Channel News Asia that Al-Ghozi is in Jakarta and is being harbored by a man identified as Solaiman from the Ali Rahman Islamic group, Da'i said that the police had yet to confirm if the information was true.

"We are not sure about this, but we will strive to track him down and maintain security in the capital," he said.