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Car bomb explodes at home of Philippine ambassador
August 2, 2000
JAKARTA (AP) - A powerful bomb Tuesday killed two people and injured dozens including the Philippine ambassador as his car entered his official residence in central Jakarta, police said.
Ambassador Leonides Caday and his chauffeur survived the lunchtime blast, which Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid linked to a Muslim rebellion in the southern Philippines rather than bloody separatist and religious violence or political turmoil in Indonesia.
Philippine Muslim rebels denied responsibility. The Philippine government condemned the attack and ordered all its embassies to be put on high alert.
Tuesday's blast rocked the capital's downtown at about 12:30 p.m.(0530 GMT).
Some victims had been badly mutilated and torn apart, witnesses said. Debris and shrapnel were scattered for hundreds of meters (yards). Several bloodied survivors walked around in a daze before emergency crews arrived.
Police initially put the death toll at three. However, they later reported that only two, an embassy guard and a woman street vendor, had been killed, said Jakarta deputy police spokesman Maj. Alex Mandalika.
At least 21 were also injured, said officials at the state-run Cipto Mangukusumo Hospital. Four, including the ambassador's driver were in critical condition.
Caday was conscious but badly bleeding as passers-by pulled him from the back seat of the wrecked limousine.
The Philippines Embassy said the ambassador sustained head and hand injuries, but was "out of danger."
In Manila, Alexander Aguirre, President Joseph Estrada's national security adviser, said it is the first time a Philippine diplomatic post had been bombed. "We didn't expect that to happen," he said.
The Philippines' largest secessionist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, quickly denied it was behind the attack even though it is accused of carrying out a series of bombings recently at home, including two at shopping malls in Manila.
Abu Escobar, of the Abu Sayyaf, another Muslim rebel group accused of bombings, said some Indonesians supported the Islamic secessionist movement in the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines.
His group has made international headlines by holding 29 hostages, including 15 foreign tourists, on a remote Philippine island.
Recently, Indonesian military officers accused Philippine Muslim groups of supplying weapons to Islamic militias fighting Christians in Indonesia's eastern Maluku islands. Thousands have died in sectarian clashes there during the past two years.
Some witnesses said Tuesday's blast came from the envoy's Mercedes car and blew it apart as it turned into the entrance of his residence on Imam Bonjol Street.
However, police investigators theorized that another car parked near the entrance might have contained the bomb, which was detonated as the Mercedes pulled into the driveway.
The ambassador's house is situated near several government offices and the homes of other foreign diplomats and senior government officials. It is only a block away from the homes of the U.S. ambassador and Indonesian Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
"I was walking by and saw the Mercedes blow up in flames," said one witness, Mohammad Mali Amin.
One corner of the ambassador's house was severely damaged, along with several buildings along the four-lane avenue, which dissects Jakarta's prestigious Menteng district.
An adjacent home occupied by Bulgaria's ambassador was also damaged along with the office of Indonesia's national electoral commission directly across the street.
Dozens of cars were damaged. Some vehicles driving down the busy street collided in the confusion immediately after the blast.
Office workers ran from their buildings nearby immediately after the blast.
Squads of police cordoned off the area.
Senior police declined to comment on who might be responsible.
"It is related to the problems in the southern Philippines," President Wahid said.
Wahid denied any link to security fears surrounding the holding of the annual session of Indonesia's supreme legislative body, the People's Consultative Assembly in six days.
Tens of thousands of security forces have been put on alert in Jakarta ahead of the Aug. 7 to 18 session, during which legislators are expected to accuse Wahid of mishandling Indonesia's political and social crises.
On July 5, a small bomb damaged a restroom at Indonesia's attorney general's office in south Jakarta. No one was injured in that incident.
The Philippine government condemned a bomb attack Tuesday at the residence of its ambassador to Indonesia and ordered all of its embassies to be put on high alert.
"We deplore in the strongest possible terms this apparent terrorist bombing," presidential Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora said.
The attack killed at least three people and injured many others, including Philippine Ambassador Leonides Caday.
Zamora said the government hopes the attack is not connected to a Muslim separatist rebellion in the southern Philippines. The largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has turned to guerrilla warfare in recent weeks after most of its camps were seized in a government offensive.
The MILF quickly denied responsibility for the attack.
"We don't have any operations in other countries," said MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu. "Our targets are the Philippine military and their allies."
Abu Escobar, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf, a smaller Muslim rebel group, said there are people in Indonesia who support the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF, but he was unsure whether they conducted the attack to show their support.
The Abu Sayyaf is holding 29 hostages, including 15 foreigners, on Jolo island in the southern Philippines. Abu Sayyaf members are suspected in several recent explosions on Jolo.
Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs Franklin Ebdalin ordered all Philippine embassies and consulates be put on a high state of alert following the bomb attack.
The motive for the attack, those responsible, and the type of bomb used are still not known, foreign affairs spokesman George Reyes said.
He said there had been no reported threats to the embassy or to Ambassador Caday.
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid linked the attack to the Philippine Muslim insurgency and not to recent bloody separatist and religious violence or political turmoil in Indonesia.
Asked if the bombing were connected to the situation in the southern Philippines, Reyes replied: "If there is a connection, then the terrorists should be aware that they are involving not only other governments but other communities and other people. It is bringing terrorism outside the country."
Meanwhile, Philippine officials seized 150 tons of ammonium nitrate, dynamite, blasting caps and other ingredients of explosives that were to be smuggled from Bataan, west of Manila, to Indonesia, officials said Tuesday.
The materials were discovered Sunday on a docked ship, the MV Midwest Angela, and were to pass through Singapore on their way to Indonesia, national police chief Panfilo Lacson said.
Officials said they were investigating whether similar shipments had been made in the past. The source of the shipment was not immediately known.