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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 09:29 GMT
Indonesian cleric taken for questioning
Angry supporters of Mr Ba'asyir try to break through a police barricade
Supporters of the cleric had gathered at the hospital
Police in Indonesia have clashed with hundreds of supporters of radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir as he was taken away for questioning.

The authorities want to ask Mr Ba'asyir about his alleged involvement in acts of terror across South-East Asia, and his alleged leadership of a group some governments link with the deadly Bali bombing in mid-October.

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir in his hospital bed
The cleric denies terrorist involvement
At least four policemen and several of the elderly cleric's supporters were injured - none seriously - as Mr Ba'asyir was moved from hospital in his hometown in central Java.

He was later flown to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, where he was installed in the Kramat Jati police hospital. It is not known when he will face questioning.

Hospital room stormed

More than 300 police had taken up position around the hospital in Solo where Mr Ba'asyir had spent the last 10 days being treated for respiratory problems and heart and stomach complications.

Police broke the lock on the door of his hospital room, put him in a wheelchair and wheeled him outside to a waiting van.

But they were soon confronted by radical Muslim leaders and students, many as young as 12, from Mr Ba'asyir's religious school.

Punches were thrown as his supporters angrily shouted abuse at police. They accuse police of kidnapping him, arguing that there are no grounds for arrest.

Mr Ba'asyir had been under detention in his hospital bed since 18 October. Police have been waiting for him to get fit enough to be questioned.

'Assassination plot'

He is accused of involvement in a spate of bomb attacks on Christian churches in Indonesia in 2000 and an assassination attempt on Megawati Sukarnoputri before she became Indonesian president.

The cleric is also the alleged leader of the militant Jemaah Islamiah group, which authorities suspect was behind the recent bombing in Bali which killed more than 200 people.

Mr Ba'asyir denies all the allegations and says he is not the leader of the militant group.

In a statement on Sunday, he said he would resist all efforts by police to detain him if he were released from hospital.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta says that the move is a moment of truth for the Indonesian authorities, who have been criticised for not moving sooner against Mr Ba'asyir, cautious as they were of a Muslim backlash against his arrest.

Our correspondent says the question now is whether militant supporters of Mr Ba'asyir will carry out violent reprisals.

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The BBC's Richard Galpin reports from Jakarta
"It is not clear when the interrogation will begin"

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27 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
26 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
27 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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