Wed, 07 May 2003

Police release sketches of airport bombers

Muninggar Sri Saraswati and Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Police released on Tuesday three composite sketches of the suspects in the two recent bomb blasts near the UN building and at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang. The suspects are believed to be members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

National Police chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Erwin Mappaseng said two of the sketches were of two men suspected of carrying out the airport bombing, while the third was of a man who is believed to have detonated a low-explosive device near the UN representative office on Jl. Wahid Hasyim in Central Jakarta.

"The recent bombings have been linked to the bombing at the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) building in September 2000," he said, adding that all three incidents involved Jakarta-based members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist group.

Erwin said the suspects shown in the sketches were likely Jakarta-based members of GAM, led by Tengku Ismuhadi Jafar, who is serving a life sentence for the bombing at the JSX building.

As many as nine people, including a former military officer, were convicted for their involvement in the JSX blast, which killed 10 people and injured 46.

Police said they could not identify the three bombing suspects.

Asked how the police were able to connect the recent blasts with the incident last year, Erwin replied, "from the evidence and witness testimony".

No one was injured in the bomb attack near the UN building, but 11 people were wounded during the airport bombing.

Erwin said earlier that witnesses had told investigators they saw a man put a black suitcase containing the bomb under a chair outside the KFC fast-food restaurant at Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Police said that the recent bombings were related to last month's blast in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra.

North Sumatra Police said earlier that a GAM commander based in Medan had confessed to the group's role in the Medan bombing. But GAM has denied accusations that it is behind the two bomb attacks in the capital.

Erwin said that the police had distributed the sketches of the suspects to all provincial police headquarters across Indonesia.