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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Indonesian police to question cleric
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, radical Islamic cleric
Ba'asyir denies any connection to the Bali bomb
Indonesian police have called radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir in for questioning.

Police say Mr Ba'asyir will be questioned in connection with attack on Christian churches in Indonesia in 2000.

However, he is believed to lead the militant Jemaah Islamiah group, which is alleged to have links with al-Qaeda and has been identified by some governments as the most likely suspect behind Saturday's bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Earlier on Thursday, the Indonesian Government said it would issue an emergency decree giving its security forces extra powers to tackle the terrorist threat in the country.

There are no words I can summon to salve the hurt and suffering and pain being felt by so many... We will do everything in our power to bring justice to those responsible for this foul deed

John Howard
Australian PM
Nearly 200 people died in the car bomb attack on Bali's Sari nightclub.

Officials say 30 Australians have now been confirmed dead and serious concerns are held for another 89.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said at a memorial service on Bali that his government will do everything in its power to bring those responsible for the Bali bomb attack to justice.

Australia had earlier urged all its citizens still in Indonesia to leave the country, following "disturbing new threats". The UK followed by issuing similar advice to its citizens.

Emergency law

Mr Ba'asyir lawyers have said he has agreed to go in for questioning on Saturday.

One police official was reported to have said the cleric was wanted for questioning in connection with statements by a confessed al-Qaeda member - not with the Bali bombing.

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is alleged to be connected to al-Qaeda through Omar al-Faruq, a Kuwaiti arrested in Indonesia earlier this year and currently in US custody.

Australian PM John Howard at a memorial service in Bali
John Howard tried to console a "shocked" nation
According to US reports, Mr Faruq has admitted planning a series of bomb attacks targeting US embassies in South East Asia timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 11 September attacks.

Mr Ba'asyir has denied any links with al-Qaeda and denied being leader of the Jemaah Islamiah - saying it was a make-believe organisation.

Indonesian police are questioning four Indonesians in connection with the attack, the national police spokesman said on Thursday.

Australia and Indonesia have now agreed to set up a joint investigation and intelligence team in the wake of the bombing.

BBC Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin says the Indonesian emergency decree is expected to enable the police to detain suspects for up to a year without bringing charges.

Enlarge image
Enlarge image

Aerial view of the devastation
Our correspondent says, the security forces will be able to request the detention of suspected terrorists based only on information from the intelligence agencies.

The justice minister said the government would establish a special anti-terrorism unit, consisting of officials from the ministries of defence, justice, politics and security, as well as from the army and police.

Ministers and members of parliament gave reassurances that the powers would not be abused by the government to crack down on political opponents. Nor would freedom of speech be restricted.

Memorial service

"What occurred on Saturday night has shocked our nation to the core," John Howard said.

The service was for relatives and close friends of victims of Saturday's bombing - especially Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders.

Bali bomb victim Laurie Kerr
  • Victims came from about two dozen countries
  • Australia, Britain and Indonesia suffered the highest number of casualties

  • Earlier in the day, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament the new warning of generic terrorist threats was "based on intelligence material we received a number of hours ago".

    Mr Downer also said the threats were serious enough to upgrade Australia's travel advice for other South-East Asian countries - including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos.

    Shortly before he spoke, two bombs ripped through a shopping centre in the southern Philippines, killing at least three people.

    The Australian Government has come in for sharp criticism this week after admitting it failed to publicise intelligence warnings of possible attacks in Indonesia.

    The BBC's Ben Brown
    "It seems the Indonesian authorities are finally getting tough on terrorism"

    Key stories




    See also:

    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    16 Oct 02 | UK
    14 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    15 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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