Cars laden with bombs on the move in Java’

But police insist the reports are aimed at creating fear and confusion.

REPORTS that five cars laden with bombs were moving around the West Java city of Indramayu yesterday created a flutter yet again in Indonesia but there seemed to be confusion over the accuracy of the information.

Both Indonesian police and military officials immediately dismissed the report that appeared in the Koran Tempo and local papers as ‘exaggerated’.

Lieutenant-Colonel Bambang Siswoyo of the Siliwangi armed forces in West Java told The Straits Times: ‘The reports are not accurate. One of the local journalists who met our commander in Indramayu turned speculation into fact. There have been rumours that several cars are moving around with bombs in the major cities of Java.

‘We don’t have any concrete information as yet. But in anticipation of a possible terrorist attack, and as is normal practice, the commander deployed soldiers to hunt for such cars.’

The Koran Tempo reported that troops were searching around Indramayu for five cars believed to be carrying bombs made by Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The daily said the military believes the bombs were made by recruits of Malaysian terrorism fugitive Noordin Top, who is accused of being one of the masterminds behind recent bombings in Indonesia.

The newspaper said its source was a military telegram in Indramayu that carried details of the five suspect cars.

‘All military personnel have been ordered to be more watchful and vigilant in monitoring strangers. This is an early prevention step against bombing threats,’ it quoted Indramayu commander Bambang Heriyadi as saying, adding that the cars had Jakarta-issued licence plates. Police officials, however, brushed aside the report, saying it was part of a disinformation campaign engineered by the terrorists.

A military telegram was indeed sent but it was a general security alert.

A senior police investigator noted that similar rumours had made the rounds in Jakarta last year immediately after the Australian Embassy bombing in September.

Then, speculation was rife that terrorists had deployed several cars with bombs to detonate simultaneously in the capital.

An investigator with Detachment 88, a counter-terrorism unit, noted: ‘Some of the information being circulated does not square with the reality in the field. It is disinformation to confuse everyone about their target choices and timing of an attack. It is aimed at creating a climate of fear.’

Fears of an impending terrorist attack in Indonesia continue, with a spate of warnings having been issued by Western embassies and the local authorities over the past month.

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