Indonesian authorities detain two suspects in Bali bombings

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesian authorities detained two possible suspects in the Bali bombings that killed nearly 200 people last month, the national police chief said Tuesday.

One man was detained Tuesday in the capital, Jakarta, Gen. Da'i Bachtiar told Indonesia's parliament. Another was taken into custody Monday in the city of Medan on Sumatra island.

The men resemble two of three suspects depicted in composite sketches based on witness accounts after the Oct. 12 blasts, Bachtiar said.

"They resembled the sketches and one of them has a criminal record," Bachtiar told lawmakers.

It was not immediately certain whether the detainees would be positively identified as suspects. Last Thursday, police arrested another man because he resembled one of the sketches, but released him.

National police spokesman Col. Prasetyo said a 28-year-old man identified only as Zulfan was detained in North Sumatra after he used a fake identity card. Prasetyo said he resembled one of the sketches.

The suspect taken into custody in Jakarta was not further identified.

U.N. office evacuated

Meanwhile, the U.N. office in downtown Jakarta was briefly evacuated after a telephoned bomb threat. No bomb was found and workers returned after about an hour.

The latest arrests come less than a week after police released the sketches and launched a nationwide manhunt.

About 120 detectives and intelligence officers from Australia, the United States, Britain, Japan and other countries are working on the case with Indonesian investigators.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah has emerged as the prime suspect.

Police have detained Abu Bakar Bashir, the group's alleged spiritual leader, but he has not been declared a suspect in the Bali blasts.

Bashir is being held in a police hospital in Jakarta, and doctors said the 64-year-old cleric is too sick to be questioned. Bashir has denied any links with terrorists and said he won't cooperate with police.

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