Sun, 06 Aug 2000

Suspicious object in U.S. embassy

JAKARTA (JP): A bomb-like object was found inside the United States Embassy, Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan, Central Jakarta, on Saturday morning, a police officer said.

The suspicious object was a small bottle, more like a perfume bottle, containing dark liquid. The bottle had a fuse and was found in the embassy's garden near the front gate.

Gambir Police Asst. Supt. Slamet Rijanto said, "A duty security officer at the embassy, M. Yusuf, first spotted the suspicious bomb-like bottle in the garden at 10:50 a.m.."

Slamet said Yusuf then alerted Central Jakarta Police, which later informed the police Bomb Squad. The bomb squad arrived at the scene at 12:05 p.m.

"Actually, the bomb-like bottle was not an explosive. It was made in such a way that it resembles a bomb," he said.

Carl Fritz of the embassy's press division could not be reached for comment on the matter.

An employee at the embassy said over the phone that all officials had left the office.

Although police have yet to formally declare that it was a bomb, the incident has added to acts of terror against residents in the capital over the past few days.

Last Tuesday, a bomb exploded in front of the Philippine ambassador's residence on Jl. Imam Bonjol, killing two people and injuring 21 others, including Ambassador Leonides T. Caday, who is still being treated at the Medistra Hospital, South Jakarta.

The blast occurred shortly before the Philippine envoy entered the gate of his residence at 12:20 p.m. People who live within a radius of one kilometer from the site could feel the effect and the sound of the blast.

National Police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo, said before attending a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the explosive device was made of TNT (trinitrotoluene), citing that it contained large amounts of nitrate and produced gray smoke.

But on Friday, Rusdihardjo said results of the police investigation showed that the bomb contained C4, an explosive device stronger than TNT, which is produced in the United States.

Slamet said the police were investigating the incident to find suspects and uncover a motive for their actions.

"We'll question the security guard (M. Yusuf) and other people in the area as witnesses to help us with our investigation," he said.

Jakarta Police Headquarters spokesman, Supt. Zainuri Lubis, confirmed the finding of the bomb-like object at the embassy.

"The police bomb squad was deployed to the scene and it has secured the suspicious object for further investigation at their headquarters in Kelapa Dua, Depok," Zainuri said.

"We'll wait for their examination result," he added.

Earlier in June, the capital was rocked by two bomb hoaxes.

The first was reportedly planted at Salvator Christ Church, Jl. K.S. Tubun, Central Jakarta.

A church staffer, F. Rujimin, alerted West Jakarta Police to inspect a suspicious item, a drinking bottle with batteries and wires packed in a brown cement sack, he had found in the morning.

The second bomb hoax was reported by a British citizen, Alistair Lang, living the Cilandak district, South Jakarta, after receiving a phone call from an unidentified person who claimed to have planted a bomb inside his house. (lup)