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Bomb Blast Targets Australian Embassy in Jakarta - 2004-09-09


A huge bomb blast in Indonesia killed at least eight people and injured more than 100. The target was the Australian Embassy, raising speculation that Islamic militants were behind the attack.

After a year of relative peace, Indonesians faced a fresh terrorist outrage when a car bomb exploded outside the Australian embassy in the heart of Jakarta. No Australian diplomats were badly injured.

All of the dead are believed to have been Indonesians, including three policemen and a guard at the embassy. Most of the injured were also Indonesian: passersby or workers in nearby offices who were hurt by flying glass.

Harold Crouch is an Australian academic who was visiting the embassy at the time of the blast.

"I was in the embassy, fortunately in the back part, so I heard the blast and felt a shuddering sensation and there was smoke going up all around the place, in some parts the embassy ceiling was falling in," he said.

The embassy had been reinforced to withstand attack and suffered little damage, but surrounding buildings had all their glass blown out.

Indonesia's police chief, General Dai Bachtiar, said the attack conformed to the pattern used by Jemaah Islamiyah, the group behind the bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002 and last year's attack on the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

The terrorist group has been weakened by a number of arrests during the past two years, but some important members, including the group's master bomb maker, Azahari Husin, are still at large.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri cut short a trip to neighboring Brunei to inspect the site of the attack and visit patients in a nearby hospital, where doctors had set up an emergency treatment station to cope with the large number of wounded.

The United States, Australia, and other Western countries had warned in recent weeks of possible attacks in Indonesia. On Tuesday, the United States strengthened its warning, urging Americans to avoid Western-owned hotels and places were foreigners often gather, such as popular restaurants.

Australia and Indonesia have worked closely to curtail the activities of Jemaah Islamiyah since the Bali bombing two years ago. Eighty-eight Australian tourists were among the 202 people killed in that attack.

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