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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 14:16 GMT
Indonesia arrests Singapore militant
The US embassy in Singapore, a planned target for a JI attack
The militant JI group is accused of targeting Singapore
Police in Indonesia say they have arrested the leader of the Singapore branch of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the regional militant network accused of carrying out the Bali bombings last year.

Mas Slamet Kastari was detained on Sunday evening in the city of Tanjungpinang on the Indonesian island of Bintan, Lieutenant-General Erwin Mappaseng told the BBC.

Mas Slamet had been on the run since 2001, when Singaporean police implicated him in a plot to crash an airplane into Changi International airport.

More than 50 alleged members of JI have been arrested over the last year in Singapore and Malaysia.

News of Mas Slamet's detention came hours after a small bomb went off at the national headquarters of Indonesia's police force in the capital, Jakarta.

'Significant breakthrough'

Indonesian police say they have been on the trail of Mas Slamet Kastari for a few days, after receiving a tip-off from their Singaporean counterparts.

He was first sighted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, then followed to Bintan island, just off the coast of Singapore.

There, according to police, he was supposed to meet with two accomplices who failed to turn up.

Changi International airport
Mas Slamet allegedly plotted an attack on Changi airport
"He was carrying a fake identity card and passport," Lieutenant-General Mapasseng said.

The BBC correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey, says the arrest marks a significant breakthrough for the security forces.

Recent improvements in co-operation between police forces in the region could be starting to pay dividends, she says.

Also on Monday Indonesian police said they had arrested a Malaysian man who they said was involved in the planning and financing of the Bali bombing.

A total of 30 suspects have now been arrested in connection with the Bali attacks, which killed nearly 200 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Police have also linked Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, allegedly the spiritual leader of the JI network, with the Bali bomb.

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, who has denied being involved in terrorism and denies being a member of JI, is in custody in Jakarta on charges of involvement in a series of church bombings in 2000.

Despite the number of arrests, police say several key suspects are still on the run.

One man still at large is JI's alleged operations chief, Hambali.

Bomb attack

Police said Monday's bomb blast in Jakarta occurred after the police station had been cordoned off following the discovery of a suspicious-looking bag in the building's lobby.

Police said no one was hurt in the blast, but police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said the explosion had "a huge political impact".

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rachel Harvey
"It sounds as though this is a regional Interpol operation"
M J Gohel, Asia Pacific Foundation
"The arrest is extremely significant"

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31 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
28 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
25 Jan 03 | From Our Own Correspondent
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