French police uncertain of embassy blast motive

8th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 8 (AFP) - French police were Friday investigating a possible terrorist connection after 10 people were slightly injured in a pre-dawn bomb blast outside the Indonesian embassy in Paris.

PARIS, Oct 8 (AFP) - French police were Friday investigating a possible terrorist connection after 10 people were slightly injured in a pre-dawn bomb blast outside the Indonesian embassy in Paris.  

The anti-terrorist section of the Paris prosecutor's office took charge of the judicial enquiry, amid suspicions it could have been carried out by Islamic extremists. No claims of responsibility had been received by the end of the day.  

After a meeting of intelligence chiefs chaired by Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, the ministry announced that security is to be stepped up at diplomatic missions, while Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said the attack "reinforces our determination ... to continue our fight against terrorism."  

However for want of firm evidence the authorities continued to class the attack as "criminal" rather than "terrorist," and officials said other theories including a settling of accounts inside the embassy were also being looked into.  

Radio Monte Carlo unnamed investigators as saying that this was the favoured theory.  

Several hours after the blast in an upscale district in the west of the capital, forensic experts were combing through debris and broken glass in search of clues for the type of explosive used, while investigators interviewed embassy staff.  

Nine of the injured - who included four embassy staff members - were treated for cuts in local hospitals and the tenth was attended to at the scene.  

The explosive device was left on the pavement beneath the Indonesian flag flying from the embassy building on a narrow street corner and went off shortly after 5:00 am, leaving a small crater some 50 centimetres (20 inches) wide by 20 centimetres deep.  

"It was an explosive device placed in front of the embassy - probably a bomb of medium size which shattered windows up to 30 metres away and damaged several vehicles parked around it," Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters at the scene.  

"To our knowledge there has been no specific threat (against Indonesian interests) but the enquiry will establish that fully," he said.  

"There was a big light and then a huge explosion," said local resident Pierre Jacquoy.   "I heard a boom so I went to the window and I saw people running, scared," said another neighbour Henri Miquel.  

President Jacques Chirac, who was in Vietnam at the time of the blast, sent a "message of support" to Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti, assuring him that "all measures would be taken to investigate this criminal act," a spokesman said.  

Indonesia's president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also condemned the attack, saying: "I'm saddened by and condemn the act of violence against our embassy in France. We call on the French government to uphold law and provide further protection for our citizens in France."  

Indonesia, which has the largest population of Muslims in the world, has been the target of several extremist attacks. In August 2003 a suicide bomber killed 12 people in an attack on the US-franchised J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta. The attack was blamed on the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group.  

The group was also believed to have been behind the truck bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta last month which killed nine people, and is suspected of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202.  

"The foreign ministry has called on all Indonesian embassies around the world to be on alert and vigilant," foreign ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin said in Jakarta.  

Indonesian police have named two Malaysians, Azahari Husin and Noordin Muhammad Top, as prime suspects in the attack on the Australian embassy and warned they could be planning further strikes. The two men remain on the run.


Subject: French News

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