05/03/2005, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Violence in Jakarta, Ambon and Sulawesi, same terror plan, says Poso Police

by Mathias Hariyadi
Concern is a growing about an Indonesia-wide terror operation after the arrest of three al-Qaeda suspects.

Poso (AsiaNews) – Violence in Mamasa regency, the conflict in Ambon and the bombings at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta could be linked and have the same instigators.

That possibility was raised by the Poso police after the arrest of three al-Qaeda suspects; should it prove correct, it would confirm the existence of a large-scale, Indonesia-wide terror plot.

Sholeh Hidayat, police Chief in Poso (Central Sulawesi), confirmed the capture of three suspected terrorists—Suryadi, 32, from East Java; Saifullah, 38, from Central Java; and Hamman, 37, from East Java—on April 30 in the village of Pandajaya, in the sub-district of South Pamona. The three were in possession of detonators, explosives and two home-made guns with 15 bullets.

Chief Hidayat said: "They became targets because we suspect them to have close relation with the Marriott bombings" in Jakarta in which 12 people were killed. "They are not local Poso residents, but entered the city from outside," he explained.

Hidayat's statement was corroborated by evidence collected at the scene of the arrest by the police anti-terror squad:  16 VCDs about al-Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden, five books on how to carry out jihad, one about the Christian-Muslim conflict in Ambon (Maluku), plus how-to manuals for home-made bombs and scores of bullets.

Chief Hidayat said the three men, plus a fourth one—Sofa—who was able to escape, were involved in the Ambon violence and in an anti-Christian attack in the predominantly Christian regency of Mamasa (West Sulawesi) in which unknown assailants killed six people.

However, Central Sulawesi Police urged the media to use caution in presenting the information. Colonel Tatang Soemantri, director of the South Sulawesi Police HQ, stressed that "police was not yet certain about [the three men's] involvement in the Marriot bombings".

"The police are still conducting the investigation in that case," a police spokesperson said.

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