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2 Indonesian Soldiers Held in Bombings

September 26, 2000|From Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Police investigating a series of bombings in this capital arrested two members of the armed forces after a shootout, officers said Monday.

Newly installed national police chief Gen. Bimantoro Suroyo said the two had acted as individuals and denied suggestions that the military as a whole was behind the blasts, which included an explosion at the Jakarta Stock Exchange on Sept. 13 that killed 15 people.

Twenty-five suspects were arrested in Jakarta over the weekend, and the two members of the military were arrested in Bandung, about 80 miles to the southeast, police said.

Lt. Col. John Bahril, a police chief in Bandung, said one of the suspects shot at police, injuring two officers. Police returned fire, injuring the gunman, before arresting both suspects, he said.

Local television said the two were members of the army's Kopassus special forces unit, which specializes in counter-terrorist tactics and has been accused of human rights abuses. Police said they could not confirm the report.

Some of the blasts coincided with advances in a corruption case against former dictator Suharto, and many people have speculated that the explosions were the work of his supporters and elements of the security forces opposed to President Abdurrahman Wahid's democratic reforms. Lawyers for Suharto, who was ousted in 1998 amid pro-democracy protests, have denied that.

One of the suspects arrested in Jakarta told police that the group also had planned to bomb the U.S. Embassy.

Detectives have said that most of the detainees, including the two military members, were from the restive northwestern province of Aceh.

Wahid installed Bimantoro as the national police chief Saturday and ordered him to take quick action to stop the attacks, which the president claimed were designed to undermine his reformist government.

Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tanjung said Monday that lawmakers want Wahid to justify his firing of the former police chief without their approval. Akbar said that Wahid failed to follow regulations and that the parliament would summon him to appear before it.

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