13 hurt in Jakarta explosion

Police were last night investigating an explosion which injured at least 13 people at a flyover near the Parliament complex – venue of next month’s impeachment proceedings against President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Central Jakarta police chief Sofjan Jacoeb told the Satunet website that the incident may have been part of efforts to disrupt the Aug 1 session.

Three suspects – the driver and passengers of a truck from which the device was thought to have been thrown – have been detained for questioning.

But police were also following up leads from witnesses who said they saw someone throw what looked like a hand grenade from a Toyota Starlet from the Slipi flyover, a busy Central Jakarta thoroughfare.

Those injured – pedestrians and street vendors among them – have been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. Jakarta has been hit by a spate of explosions in recent months, which have added to political tensions arising from a standoff between Mr Abdurrahman and legislators seeking to oust him.

He has warned that moves to remove him could trigger unrest and has threatened to impose a state of emergency – and incidents such as last night’s explosion could give him more reason to act.

The incident occurred hours after he promoted hundreds of mid-ranking police officers who were among those who backed his move to replace belligerent national police chief Suroyo Bimantoro.

Analysts saw the 144 promotions as a move by him to cultivate police personnel who could give him critical backing if he declares emergency rule. Also promoted were nearly 1,000 lower-ranking officers, most serving in Jakarta and parts of West, Central and East Java, and Sumatra.

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