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Security Threat Prompts Closure of US Embassy in Indonesia


The U.S. Embassy has closed all its offices in Indonesia citing an unspecified terrorist threat. The closure comes as Indonesia's president is in the United States to strengthen ties with Washington.

U.S. officials have given no details of the threat that forced the closure of the embassy and other U.S. facilities in Indonesia.

"The American embassy in Jakarta is closed because of security threat," said Max Kwak, a U.S. embassy spokesman in Jakarta. "Not only the American embassy in Jakarta but also all American government offices including consulate general in Surabaya, our office in Medan, and also consulate agency in Bali - they're all closed until further notice. That's all I can say."

An Indonesian armored vehicle pulls up outside of the U.S. Embassy, Thursday, May 26, 2005, in Jakarta
An embassy statement also reminded all Americans the threat of a terror attack in Indonesia "remains high." The United States has warned its citizens for several years to avoid travel to Indonesia and, when there, to take security precautions.

The closure of the U.S. facilities comes a week after Australia issued a warning to its citizens to avoid travel to Indonesia because of a warning by Jakarta police of possible suicide bombings at public places including embassies, shopping malls, offices, and international schools.

Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, has been hit by a series of bombings over the past three years, most blamed on the regional terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah. J.I., which has links to the al-Qaida terror network, advocates establishing an Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia.

The attacks include the 2002 bombings in the resort island of Bali that claimed 202 lives, most of them foreigners, the 2003 blast at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta, which took 12 lives and last year's bombing of the Australian Embassy, which killed 10 people.

Dozens of militants linked to J.I. have been arrested and convicted in the Bali and Marriott bombings, but scores of terror suspects remain at large. Officials in Jakarta believe they are hiding in Indonesia.

The U.S. terror warning comes as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is on a visit to the United States aimed at fully restoring defense ties between the two nations.

The United States cut military ties with Jakarta in the 1990's because of the Indonesian army's worsening human rights record. Military ties, however, have been gradually restored over the past few years as Indonesia has battled the threat of terrorism.

President Yudhoyono, a former general who became Indonesia's first directly elected president last year, reiterated to President Bush his commitment to reforming the military and strengthening civilian control of the country.

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