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Bomb squad removes device from U.S. Embassy in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A bomb disposal team converged on the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Saturday -- just days after a blast killed two people in the Indonesian capital amid heightened political tensions.

The bomb squad was called after a small bottle filled with mysterious substances was discovered lying on the grounds of the embassy, which is not far from the presidential palace.

The bottle was inspected and removed, but police would not speculate on whether it proved to be an explosive device. One police officer said it may have been rolled onto the embassy grounds through a high metal fence that rings the low-level building.

A bomb blast on Tuesday outside the Philippine ambassador's home in central Jakarta killed two people and wounded scores of others, including the envoy.

The blast also rattled nerves in the capital of 12 million people ahead of a key session next week of the top legislature, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), at which President Abdurrahman Wahid will account for his first rocky year in office.

Indonesian officials have said they suspected Tuesday's blast was linked to separatist Moslem rebels in the southern Philippines, although other commentators said a connection to political tensions in Indonesia should not be ruled out.

Rebels believed to be in capital

National Police Chief General Rusdihardjo said intelligence reports indicated rebels fighting for a separate state in Aceh province in northern Sumatra had arrived in Jakarta ahead of the MPR meeting, the Antara news agency said.

"There are intelligence reports that GAM have entered Jakarta," he said, referring to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Rusdihardjo did not elaborate.

Thousands of police, including scores of specially trained snipers, will be posted at points along key provincial roads leading to Jakarta, media reports said Saturday.

In Switzerland, meanwhile, representatives of the Indonesian government and Aceh rebels met Saturday to discuss the fate of a truce reached nearly three months ago, diplomats said.

The talks, under a media blackout, are at a secret location outside Geneva.

The talks will not center on political issues such as the status of Aceh, but on implementing a cease-fire and possibly setting up committees to coordinate humanitarian aid.

Reuters contributed to this report.

ASIANOW


RELATED STORIES:
Indonesian police tighten security after blast
August 2, 2000
Jakarta blast kills 2, injures Philippines ambassador
August 1, 2000
Philippines grenade blast injures 18; police suspect Abu Sayyaf rebels
July 26, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Government of Indonesia
AsianNet - Indonesia On-Line
Philippines News Agency (PNA)
Embassy of the Philippines
Library of Congress Country Studies: Philippines

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