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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK
Indonesia moves to protect US embassy
Barbed wire barricade outside the US embassy in Jakarta
There are about 10,000 US citizens in Indonesia
By Richard Galpin in Jakarta

The Indonesian security forces have positioned armoured vehicles and troops close to the US embassy in the capital, Jakarta, after Islamic extremists threatened to stage demonstrations against the military action in Afghanistan.

Anti-US protesters
There have been a number of small protests
One hardline group has warned the government to cut diplomatic ties with Washington within the next 72 hours. Otherwise, it will attack US facilities and citizens in the country.

Almost 40 armoured personnel carriers, along with dozens of troops, have now taken up positions in the city's main square opposite the US embassy.

It is clearly a show of force aimed at deterring any of the radical Islamic groups from carrying out their threats.

Barbed wire barricades have also been placed outside the embassy and the police say they will deploy almost 3,000 armed men in the area. All this after one of the radical groups, the small but vocal Islamic Defenders' Front, announced it was calling on all Muslims to demonstrate outside the embassy later on Monday.

'Terrorists'

Its leader warned it would begin hunting for US and British citizens if the Indonesian government did not cut diplomatic relations with Washington within the next three days. He described Americans as terrorists, all of whom should now be driven out.

President Megawati
President Megawati has appealed for calm
But a Foreign Office spokesman ruled out any possibility of relations being cut. The police have also warned they will arrest anyone who tries to search for foreigners and have promised to protect expatriates.

But the foreign community here has little faith in the security forces and the American, British and French embassies in Jakarta are all closed. They, along with the Australians, have warned their nationals to stay at home and maintain a low profile until further notice.

The planned demonstration will be a key test for the extremist groups - to see how much support they really have. The vast majority of Muslims are very liberal and tolerant and have deplored the 11 September attacks.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri was the first leader of a Muslim nation to visit Washington after the suicide attacks, where she pledged to help America in its war against terrorism.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Galpin
"The Indonesian Government was extremely careful to remain neutral"
See also:

08 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Backlash fear for Westerners abroad
03 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Anti-US anger in Indonesia
02 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Megawati condemns anti-US 'sweep'
27 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Anti-US rally raises Jakarta tension
25 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia clerics threaten jihad
19 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Islamic groups warn of Indonesia violence
17 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush seeks Muslim support
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Laskar Jihad?
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Islam: Faith under fire
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