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U.S. embassy in Indonesia to reopen but threat remains JAKARTA - The U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, closed since September 9 due to the threat of a terrorist attack, will reopen on Monday, but the public should still stay away "unless it is absolutely necessary", the embassy said. A statement from the embassy said on Sunday that "the cooperation of the Indonesian security authorities has permitted the reopening".
But it cautioned that "the threat information remains serious and compelling and the public is urged to refrain from coming to the Embassy or the (Surabaya) Consulate unless it is absolutely necessary". The consulate in Indonesia's second city of Surabaya had also been closed because of what a State Department spokesman described last week as "credible and specific threat information" and that it and the embassy were "at risk of terrorist attack".
While details of the alleged threat have been few and far between, U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce, in a speech on Tuesday, suggested a link to the al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden, blamed by Washington for the attacks on U.S. targets on September 11 last year. The U.S. Embassy in Malaysia has also been shut indefinitely since Wednesday on fears over security.
On Thursday, regional police and security sources said the tip-off that led to the closure of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta came from a Kuwaiti national with ties to al Qaeda who had spoken of threats to other embassies as well. The Kuwaiti had said that truckloads of explosives would be used in the alleged attack on the Jakarta embassy, said a Western security consultant in the Indonesian capital, who declined to be identified.
The sources said the Kuwaiti was arrested in Indonesia in June and sent to the United States, where he revealed the plot only recently to intelligence officials. While the closure of the Jakarta embassy was the first to be announced last week, a number of others were shut down later. The Jakarta closure brought criticism from the government of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, which said it was not consulted and could provide adequate security.
On Sunday night, Indonesian police armed with automatic weapons were spaced at frequent intervals along the outside of the embassy fence, and large empty police trucks were parked directly in front of the gates, apparently to keep any vehicles from trying to crash through. The road in front of the embassy had been closed to traffic, and police were unrolling concertina wire along it. Although about 85 percent of Indonesia's population is Muslim, the vast majority are moderates.
However, there is a vocal militant element, and even many moderates were critical of the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan and voiced doubts about a possible strike on Iraq. Because of U.S. discussion on Iraq, some militants have renewed talk of expelling Americans from Indonesia, although such threats proved empty when first heard at the time of the Afghanistan attack.
Sunday's U.S. Embassy statement said: "Americans are reminded once again to take prudent personal security precautions, particularly during this period of heightened security concerns."



Posted in General @ 15 September 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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