Police Say Plastic Explosives Caused Deadly Jakarta Exchange Blast
Indonesian police said Thursday powerful plastic explosives packed in the trunk of an old car caused the blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange which killed 10, amid speculation it was linked to the trial of former president Suharto.
"This was clearly a bomb made of plastic explosives with a strength of between C-1 and C-4 (types of plastic explosives)," Jakarta police spokesman Superintendent Nur Usman told journalists.
Police teams which began investigating the site -- the underground parking of the 32-story exchange tower -- on Thursday believed the bomb was put in the trunk (English: boot) of an old Japanese sedan.
Only "half of the car is left," he said, adding the car's number plates were gone and the engine number filed off.
Wednesday's bomb explosion on the second floor of the underground parking lot seriously damaged some 80 cars, Usman said.
Usman also said there were similarities to a bomb attack on the Philippine ambassador's residence on July 31, which left two dead and 20 injured.
He said five witnesses, including drivers, security guards and visitors to the building had been questioned but nobody had been arrested in connection with the blast.
The bomb went off on the eve of Thursday's second hearing in Suharto's corruption trial, and was the fifth explosion to rock Jakarta in past months.
On the eve of the opening session of the trial on August 31, a strong explosion damaged a minibus parked close to the South Jakarta court. There were no casualties.
Speculation was rife here that the blast was intended to put the government under pressure during the trial of the 79-year-old former dictator.
Suharto, who ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for 32 years, is charged with stealing 571 million dollars from the state by funneling money from tax-free charity foundations into the businesses of family and friends.
One of Suharto's defense lawyers, Juan Felix Tampubolon dismissed speculation that the blast was linked to his client saying it was "nonsense" spread by people for "political aims."
He called on the police to solve the bombing quickly and prove that the allegations were unfounded.
National police Chief General Rusdiharjo refused to link the blast to the trial without evidence.
"One can not directly charge that it is related to Suharto because there is no evidence and none of the perpetrators have been arrested so far," Rusdiharjo said.
The blasts have put further pressure on the Indonesian government already beleaguered by instability and independence calls from outlying islands threatening the archipelagic nation.
Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak hinted at the possibility of high level suspects and said President Abdurrahman Wahid had told investigators to act firmly.
"There is no sacred cow in this country, no one is exempt from the law," Wahid had said, according to Marsilam.
Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, who spoke of possible military involvement in the bombings, added that Wahid had instructed the armed forces commander to assist the police in its probe.
"Police always fail when they have to investigate the military," Darusman said.
Usman had earlier said 15 people were killed in the blast but later corrected it to 10 people, admitting, "there may have been some double count."
Wahid, Marsilam said, ordered the intelligence agency to boost its capabilities in order to be able to detect and prevent unwanted incidents -- JAKARTA(AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)