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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
Security stepped up in Indonesia
Police erect barbed-wire barricades to protect the US embassy in Jakarta
Barbed-wire barricades protect the US embassy in Jakarta
By BBC Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin

The Indonesian security forces are leaving little to chance at the United States' embassy in Jakarta.

As radical Islamic groups threatened to stage protests at the military action in Afghanistan, the police pulled out huge barbed-wire barricades to protect the embassy building and sealed off the road.

Protests have been small-scale and peaceful
Next came a column of almost 40 armoured personnel carriers and troops from the army to supplement more than 300 armed policemen deployed in the area.

The Indonesian army clearly wanted to stage a strong show of force before any extremist organisations managed to reach the area.

But so far the security forces have had little to do.

Peaceful protests

There have only been small-scale demonstrations which have passed off peacefully.

The biggest protest involved at most 200 members of the hard-line organisation, the Islamic Defenders Front, who gathered outside the embassy dressed in white gowns and carrying sticks.

They called for a jihad [holy war] against the United States and vowed to continue their demonstration until all Americans had been expelled from Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world's biggest Muslim nation
They also called on the government to cut diplomatic ties with Washington within the next three days or they would attack American interests and civilians in the country.

Four embassies - including the American and British - have closed.

They have issued strong warnings to their nationals to remain at home and maintain a low profile until further notice.

There are estimated to be 10,000 Americans living in Indonesia and 4,000 British expatriates.

Some Americans had already left the country before the retaliatory strikes on Afghanistan on Sunday, and at least two major international companies had told non-essential staff they could return to their home countries.

Extremist threats

But the vast majority of expatriates here seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach.

Whilst apprehensive about the ability of the security forces to control any violent demonstrations if do they occur, few foreigners are racing to the airports at this stage.

Perhaps of more concern than the widely predicted threats from the extremist groups, has been today's statement by the respected Council of Islamic leaders which is one of the country's top religious organisations.

It represents a broad range of Muslim opinion.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"There are large numbers of armed police"
See also:

08 Oct 01 | Americas
Americans urged to stay vigilant
03 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Anti-US anger in Indonesia
25 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia clerics threaten jihad
02 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Megawati condemns anti-US 'sweep'
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