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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Pledge to hunt Jakarta bombers
Photo released by Indonesian police from a security camera believed to be the suicide bombers truck shortly before it exploded
Police said this vehicle carried the bomb
Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer has pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of Thursday's bomb attack at the Australian embassy in Jakarta.

The blast killed at least nine people and injured more than 180 others.

Indonesian police say one or more militants may have died in what they believe was a suicide car bomb attack.

Police said Jemaah Islamiah, the militant group accused of the 2002 Bali bombings and other attacks, was most likely to blame.

Mr Downer told a news conference on Friday that police may have received a text message shortly before the bomb blast, warning that foreign missions in Jakarta would be attacked unless Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was freed from jail.

But Indonesian police denied they had received such a warning.

Ba'asyir, who is currently in police detention, is accused of being JI's spiritual leader.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Blast scene in Jakarta
I was in a meeting and felt the whole building shake in a huge explosion
John Day, Jakarta

'Brutal' attack

"This was a cruel and a callous attack," Mr Downer told reporters.

"Our officials will do everything they can to help the Indonesians hunt down the people responsible for this brutality," he said.

Mr Downer called the bomb a direct attack on Australia, although those killed were all thought to be Indonesian.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said earlier that his country would not be intimidated by terrorism.

The Thursday morning explosion was widely condemned around the world.

US President George W Bush described it as an attack on civilised people everywhere.

After arriving in Indonesia's capital late on Thursday, Australian forensic experts immediately went to help local authorities comb the scene of the blast.

JI blamed

Indonesian police said the bomb appeared to have been carried in a mini-van, and blamed the attack on Islamic militants.

"We suspect that it is a suicide bombing," police chief Lt Gen Suyitno Landung was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

INDONESIA'S WAVE OF TERROR
December 2000 - Church bombings kill 19
October 2002 - Bali attacks kill 202, many Australian
December 2002 - Sulawesi McDonald's kills three
August 2003 - Jakarta Marriott Hotel bomb kills 12
September 2004 - Bomb outside Australian embassy in Jakarta

"We are trying to determine whether the parts of bodies of three men at Kramat Jati hospital were part of a suicide squad."

Australian forensic experts said the explosive used was similar to that used in the bombing of the city's Marriott Hotel last year and the Bali nightclubs in 2002.

The attack bore the hallmark of JI, said Jakarta Police chief Da'i Bachtiar.

He also accused Azahari Husin, a British-trained Malaysian engineer, of involvement.

Husin is suspected of playing a part in previous bombings in Indonesia, and is one of Asia's most wanted men.

A message posted on an Islamic internet site, and purporting to be from Jemaah Islamiah, claimed it had carried out the attack. However, the claim could not be verified, and JI has not issued such statements before.

Elections due

The attack has prompted fears that militants could be trying to target the outcome of a general election in Australia on 9 October.

"This is not a nation that is going to be intimidated by acts of terrorism," Mr Howard said. "We are a strong, robust democracy."

Terrorism and the conflict in Iraq are key issues in what is expected to be a tight race between Mr Howard - who is seeking a fourth term - and the Labor Party leader Mark Latham.

If he wins, Mr Latham has pledged to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq.

The blast is also likely to overshadow Indonesia's presidential election on 20 September. Incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri and challenger Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have both visited the scene of the attack.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Andrew Harding
"They suspect that the man who may have organised the whole attack was a British educated engineer."



SEE ALSO:
Indonesia media's 'shame' at attack
10 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Australia under attack, says press
09 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Abu Bakar Ba'asyir
29 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's 'blast embarrassment'
09 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Embassy attack
09 Sep 04  |  In Pictures
Bali 'bomb-makers' still at large
09 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific


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