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Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 17:06 GMT
Americans told to leave Indonesia
Jakarta embassy protest
Protests have already targeted US interests
By Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin

Radical Muslim groups in Indonesia have been searching hotels in one of the main cities for American citizens, giving them an ultimatum to leave the area within 48 hours.

Several Americans who were staying in the city of Solo have already left.

Hostility towards the United States has been rising in Indonesia in recent weeks, in part because of Washington's policies in the Middle East, but also because of a public row between the Indonesian Government and the American embassy in Jakarta.

Israel flag burning protest in Indonesia
There is strong anti-Israeli feeling in Muslim Indonesia
In Solo, the manager of one of the main hotels told the BBC that about 100 young Muslims wearing green uniforms had entered on Sunday morning.

They demanded to know if there were any Americans staying there.

Claiming to be from an organisation called the Hizbul army, they warned that all American citizens would have to leave the city within 48 hours.

Anti-American feeling

They departed peacefully but went on to check the other hotels.

Several American businessmen have now left the city. It is not clear if they have remained within Indonesia or gone to Singapore.

This is the first incident of its kind but anti-American sentiment has been rising.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country and there is much anger at the perceived bias of Washington towards Israel in the current Middle East crisis.

There have been many demonstrations in Jakarta, and last week the American embassy closed its consular and visa sections because of threats.

Jakarta protests

Senior government ministers are also angry with the current ambassador, Robert Gelbard. They have accused him of trying to influence the appointment of members of the cabinet and top military officials.

The defence minister also recently accused an American tourist of spying whilst in the province of Irian Jaya, where demands for independence have been mounting.

The embassy has issued several curt press releases denying all these charges categorically.

All American citizens in Indonesia have now been told to take extra security measures.

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