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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Severed head clue to Jakarta bomb
Chief of detectives Erwin Mappaseng holds up a sketch of the severed head
Two men in prison recognised the man from the reconstruction
A severed head found at the scene of a hotel bombing in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, has been identified as that of a member of an Islamic militant group, police have said.

The head of Asmar Latinsani, 28, from West Sumatra, was identified by two jailed members of the Jemaah Islamiah group who said they had recruited him.

The police statements appeared to back up speculation that the car bomb, which exploded outside the Marriott Hotel on Tuesday and left at least 10 people dead, was a suicide attack.

Jemaah Islamiah, which has been accused of carrying out last year's bomb attacks on the island of Bali, is now the prime suspect behind the Jakarta blast, police said.

The Jemaah Islamiah network remains a significant threat across South-East Asia
David Wright-Neville

On Thursday, an Islamic militant was sentenced to death for the role he played in the Bali bomb.

However Amrozi's lawyers revealed on Friday that he is to appeal against the conviction.

Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri, making her first public comments since the hotel blast, warned that no government can defeat terrorism on its own.

She told diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that it needed to become a fully-fledged security community.

"This does not mean a defence or military alliance, but a more comprehensive political cooperation in which they share responsibility in responding to threats to regional harmony and security," she said.

The sketch of the severed head was also recognised by one of the man's relatives, according to Indonesia's chief of detectives Erwin Mappaseng.

Mr Mappaseng named the two JI members as Sardono Siliwangi and Mohammad Rais who were arrested in June.

"They identified the face on the severed head as Asmar, based on a scar on his left temple," he said.

"The two Jemaah Islamiah members recruited Asmar Latinsani."

Al-Qaeda link

But Mr Mappaseng did not say if Asmar was believed to be the driver of the van which blew up outside the hotel in what authorities suspect was a suicide bombing.

JI was formed in the mid-1980s by two Indonesian clerics.

It gained a terrorist edge in the mid-1990s when one of its founders, the late Abdullah Sungkar, established contact with Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Since then the organisation has spread to include cells in countries across South-East Asia.


Its principal goal is the establishment of a unified South East Asian Islamic state stretching from southern Thailand, through the Malay Peninsula, including Singapore and across the Indonesian archipelago, and into the southern Philippines.

After the Jakarta bombing, Indonesian police also said that documents found in the possession of JI members arrested last month indicated an attack in the area around the hotel was imminent.

The explosives and methods used to bomb the luxury hotel were similar to those used in the Bali bombing last year, police have said.

Investigators sifting through debris for clues about the blast said a similar cocktail of high and low grade explosives were used in Bali.

Security has been tight in Indonesia since the Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, and authorities have warned of similar threats.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has warned that new intelligence indicates there could be more terrorist attacks in the city and Indonesia as a whole in coming days.

"We think there is a real risk that there could be further attacks," he said earlier this week.

Eighty-eight of the 202 people who died in the Bali bomb were Australian.

"We have particular concerns at the moment about central Jakarta and also other places in Indonesia," Mr Downer said.

Urging its citizens to exercise caution, the Australian Government has re-issued its travel warning against all non-essential travel to Indonesia.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Rachel Harvey
"[The police] have identified him from a number of different sources"



SEE ALSO:
Bali bomber's lawyers to appeal
08 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Alarm over Bali 'bomb-makers'
06 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Scenes of panic and carnage in Jakarta
05 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Blast's likely suspects
05 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
06 Jun 03  |  Country profiles
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
07 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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