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Cablegate: Central Sulawesi: Media Report of Palu Bomb Plot Turns Out

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R 030930Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0151
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TAGS: PGOV KISL KIRF PTER EAID PREL ASEC ID PINS
SUBJECT: CENTRAL SULAWESI: MEDIA REPORT OF PALU BOMB PLOT TURNS OUT
TO BE UNTRUE

This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: A September 30 report titled "Kids Uncover
Idul Fitri Bomb Terror Plan in Palu" was carried in the English
language daily, The Jakarta Post. Congen Surabaya spoke with
local police, and civil society leaders knowledgeable about
local media who refuted the Jakarta Post story. We learned that
the material detonated by police was likely an unexploded bundle
of fireworks that raised suspicions due to wire used to bind
them. Fireworks are a common part of Indonesia's celebration of
the Idul Fitri holiday marking the end of the holy month of
Ramadan. End Summary

2. (SBU) The Jakarta Post reported that a suspected terrorist
bomb was found on September 30 and detonated by police in Palu,
Central Sulawesi. The suspect item was reportedly found on the
eve of the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan--a day
greeted with fireworks by Muslims throughout the city. However,
no local police or media sources in Palu could confirm the key
elements of the Jakarta Post story, titled, "Kids Uncover Idul
Fitri Bomb Terror Plan in Palu," which described a "cell-phone
detonator and blinking lights" discovered by children, according
to their aunt. Central Sulawesi has a history of
Muslim-Christian sectarian conflict and the two communities are
careful to spot and report warning signs of renewed violence.
Congen Surabaya checked with Palu police, an NGO worker, and the
former head of a local media association in Palu. We confirmed
that Palu print media reported that police detonated an object
on September 30 near Palu Plaza Mall, but no local sources
suggested that it was a terrorist's bomb.

3. (SBU) Palu Deputy Police Commissioner Yoseph directly
contradicted the Jakarta Post and its quotation of a Palu police
official named A.B. Sitindjak, who called it a terrorist plot.
Yoseph told us police on the scene had detonated a bundle of
fireworks as a precaution and had no reason to think that it was
a bomb planted to cause injury. The Jakarta Post story seems to
confirm this perception by quoting several witnesses who say
that "police did not follow procedure" or use a blast container,
but rather "exploded it in the open."

4. (SBU) Palu's local paper, Radar Sulteng, also reported the
police detonation near the Palu Plaza mall. However, Mr. Tasrif
Syarif, former director of the independent journalists
association, said that since it was not described as a terrorist
bomb, the story was not carried in Indonesian language media
outside Palu. The English language Jakarta Post appears to be
the only other paper to have reported the story and the only one
to have given it a terrorist spin. Accidents due to stray
fireworks are common during Ramadan. Two houses in Palu were
burned due to stray fireworks on September 30, according to Mr.
Syarif. Mr. Sofyan Lembah, director of Central Sulawesi Child
Protection Agency confirmed this and added that Idul Fitri
celebrations have a great deal of loud fireworks and loose
undetonated fireworks and fires are a common hazard during the
holiday.

MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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