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UN Moves Out Of Jakarta HQ - 2003-10-31

The United Nations is moving from its long-standing headquarters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, because of security fears. The move is just the latest change in a city where terrorism is an ever-present threat.

In the wake of the car bombing of the U.N. office in Baghdad, which killed 22 people, security is being tightened across the world.

For years the United Nations headquarters in Indonesia has stood on an intersection of one of Jakarta's busiest roads. Experts say that makes it vulnerable to car bombs and its headquarters should be at least 50 meters back from the road to lessen the effects of any blast.

In April, a small device exploded close to the U.N. headquarters. There was little damage, and no one was killed, but the crime is still unsolved.

Indonesia is the birthplace of the regional terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah. The group is believed to have been behind both the Bali bombing last October, which killed more than 200 people, and August's attack on the J.W. Marriott hotel in central Jakarta, in which 12 people died.

Scores of JI suspects have been arrested and more than a dozen senior members convicted of terrorism.

But analysts warn that JI still has both the capability and intention to launch further major attacks.

This week Britain raised the level of its warning against traveling to Indonesia, saying it continues to receive information that more attacks against Western or Indonesian targets are planned.

Since the bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel, security around almost all the high profile buildings in Jakarta has been significantly tightened. Five-star hotels are now cordoned off with barriers and barbed wire, and cars are no longer allowed to approach even minor office buildings without being checked by security staff.

Despite the increased security alert, few international companies have withdrawn staff, and most ex-patriots seem philosophical about the threat. But analysts warn that another attack could well provoke an exodus from Indonesia.