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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 10:02 GMT
Indonesia questions Singapore militant
Mas Slamet Kastari
Mas Slamet Kastari has been on the run since 2001
Indonesian police have started interrogating the man they say heads the Singapore branch of regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Mas Slamet Kastari, who was detained on Sunday on the Indonesian island of Bintan, has confirmed his identity and is co-operating, police said.

Police said there were no plans to extradite him to Singapore, where he is wanted for alleged terrorist plots, because the two countries have no extradition treaty.

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

Indonesian police said on Tuesday they were investigating links between the Singaporean and the Indonesian arm of JI, which has been accused of being behind last October's bomb attacks on Bali.

'Significant breakthrough'

Indonesian police say they had 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.

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 or 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 terrorism suspects are still on the run, including a man known as Hambali, who is wanted for a string of attacks across the region.

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 ON THIS STORY
M J Gohel, Asia Pacific Foundation
"The arrest is extremely significant"

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31 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
28 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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