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US embassy opens after alleged terror threat JAKARTA - The United States embassy here and the consulate in Surabaya reopened on Monday after four working days closed as a result of a terrorist threat from the al-Qaeda network. Dozens of people were seen queuing at the embassy to arrange documents, while heavily armed police stood guard outside the building located on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan, Central Jakarta.
But U.S. diplomats here warned American citizens to still avoid facilities associated with the U.S. embassy and the consulate unless their visits were absolutely necessary. This was because the information about a security threat "remains serious and compelling". The two U.S. missions were closed on Sept. 10 due to what the embassy called a "credible and specific threat" that preceded the commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon last year.
However, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph L. Boyce remained tight-lipped on Monday over the nature of the threat, and when and from where from it had been received. Since the closure, security has been beefed up at the embassy with dozens of gun-toting paramilitary police officers guarding the compound, and half of the wide road in front cordoned off to traffic.
Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hailed the embassy's reopening, which he said followed good consultation and coordination between the embassy and Indonesian authorities. "Until now there has been good coordination between the Indonesian Police and the American embassy. The embassy itself welcomed the Indonesian Police's security efforts," he told reporters.
Boyce met with Susilo last Wednesday to clear up a "misunderstanding" over the closures. The next day, Vice President Hamzah Haz, who had at first condemned the shutdown, ordered police to boost security at the embassy. Similarly, the U.S. also reopened its embassy in Malaysia on Monday. The missions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Hanoi, Vietnam, however, remained closed until further notice.
"We are extremely grateful to the government of Malaysia and, in particular, the Royal Malaysia Police, for the support and protection they have provided to the U.S. Embassy," an embassy statement was quoted by AP as saying. The closure of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta is the second time it has been closed since the Sept. 11 attacks because of security fears. In October, the public section of the building was shut down for two weeks due to fears of terrorist attacks.
Since Sept. 11 last year, dozens of Muslim hard-liners allegedly linked to al-Qaeda have been arrested in Singapore and Malaysia. Yet none have been arrested in Indonesia on charges of terrorism. Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide warning urging American nationals to remain especially vigilant, saying there was a "continuing threat of terrorist actions."



Posted in Terrorism @ 17 September 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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