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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Indonesia's 'blast embarrassment'
By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Jakarta

An injured man is treated at a hospital
Most or all of the victims of the blast are said to be Indonesians
It appears to have been Indonesians who bore the brunt of Thursday's bombing of the Australian Embassy, just as they did in the August 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

Even the October 2002 bombing in Bali which reaped a huge toll of western tourists killed 38 locals.

It is thought that those who died in this latest attack were all Indonesian as were most of 170 or more who were injured.

That has not been lost on the people of Jakarta, many of whom are very angry.

Death penalty calls

Though some blamed a conspiracy between the US, Australia and Israel, most vented their fury on the perpetrators.

"You open this anti-terrorism school, you make this anti-terrorism squad, but we still have this bomb in Jakarta
Jakarta resident

"Whatever the purpose of the bombers, the fact is that it's our brothers and sisters who get killed, who get hurt," said one person at the scene.

"You should never forgive them. The government must catch them. They deserve the death penalty," said another.

A not uncommon reaction was that the authorities here are not doing enough to combat terrorism.

"You should offer the people a billion Rupiah ($US 107,000) and ask them to catch the bombers," was one suggestion. "If our government doesn't have the money then ask foreign governments."

Authorities 'embarrassed'

One bystander took on the police. "What have you been doing?" he demanded. "You open this anti-terrorism school, you make this anti-terrorism squad, but we still have this bomb in Jakarta."

December 2000 - Christian churches bombings kill 19
October 2002 - Bali attacks kill 202, many Australian
December 2002 - Blast at McDonald's in Sulawesi kills three
August 2003 - Bomb at Marriott Hotel in Jakarta kills 12
September 2004 - Bomb outside Australian embassy in Jakarta

The attack on the Australian Embassy comes just two months after Indonesia opened the anti-terrorism training centre with a fanfare.

Much of the funding came from the Australian government.

It is supposed to be a regional centre of excellence. It's already started to turn out the officers whom it's hoped will prevent this kind of incident from recurring.

It's all rather embarrassing, not least because there seems to have been very strong intelligence that an attack was imminent.

Only last weekend one of Indonesia's top intelligence officials said that he believed the two Malaysians thought to be leading the bombing campaign were becoming frustrated and were determined to strike.

'Fortress' embassy

On Saturday, the Australians even took the precaution of moving an embassy ball from the JW Marriott, scene of last August's bombing, to the embassy, which they believed to be more secure.

Australian flag floats in front of wrecked building
The embassy suffered less damage than surrounding buildings

Despite Thursday's devastation it may have been a sensible call.

The embassy itself suffered considerably less damage than surrounding buildings.

Strict security measures kept the vehicle that is believed to have carried the bomb well away. Most casualties were outside the perimeter fence.

Embassy staff were well drilled in what to do and made their way to the basement of the building - most of those injured within suffered superficial wounds from flying glass.

Indonesia's security services have been widely praised for the progress they have made since the Bali attacks.

However, the top brass seem to have a lot to learn about inspiring public confidence.

In pictures: Embassy attack
09 Sep 04  |  In Pictures
Indonesia shares slip after blast
09 Sep 04  |  Business
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
15 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Bali 'bomb-makers' still at large
09 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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