13 die as car bomb explodes at Jakarta stock exchange

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The Independent Online

A car bomb tore through a packed parking garage beneath Jakarta's stock exchange today killing at least 13 people, injuring 27 and shaking confidence in Indonesia's attempts to reform after decades of corrupt dictatorship.

A car bomb tore through a packed parking garage beneath Jakarta's stock exchange today killing at least 13 people, injuring 27 and shaking confidence in Indonesia's attempts to reform after decades of corrupt dictatorship.

The blast damaged or destroyed 400 vehicles in the garage filled with cars and drivers waiting for stockbrokers to finish work, said national police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo.

The 27 injured - many covered in black dust and breathing with difficulty, and others cut by flying glass - were brought into a nearby hospital.

Smoke filled the exchange's trading room and other offices, forcing the evacuation of about 1,000 workers.

Firefighters doused the flames and fumbled through the darkness of the three-level parking lot to pull out victims many hours after the blast.

Most of the dead suffocated; some were found in the charred remains of their cars.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast, the deadliest in a series of unexplained recent bombings in Indonesia.

The bombing was a major blow to efforts by President Abdurrahman Wahid to restore confidence in Indonesia's crisis-ridden economy and end violence across the world's fourth-most populous nation.

In the past, Wahid has complained bitterly that his opponents have used terrorist-like tactics to destabilize his year-old reformist government.

The attack occurred without warning 45 minutes before the markets closed. Hours before the afternoon explosion, the stock market's main index hit a 12-month low. After the blast, trading was suspended until Monday.

Rusdihardjo, who like many Indonesians uses one name, said the explosion originated in a red car parked on the second level of the garage.

Jakarta police spokesman Lt. Col. Nur Usman said authorities were trying to determine what explosive was used. "It could be a grenade, a bomb, or something electrical," he said. The state news agency Antara said the bomb was planted in a Toyota van.

"It was a really big bang and the earth shook. Then we just ran for our lives," said Rudi Herawanto, a driver who was on the first level, a floor above where the blast went off. Others in the building recalled the force of the blast.

"We were on the 27th floor and it shook substantially," said Greg McCoy, an Australian insurance broker.

Feri Indrianto, a stockbroker on the 20th floor, said: "I felt a big blast and heard a loud bang." Mysterious explosions have coincided with every major stage of a state investigation into allegations of corruption by former dictator Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years until forced out by violent demonstrations in 1998.

A bomb exploded just before Suharto's case went before a court two weeks ago. The proceedings are scheduled to resume Thursday, when doctors will be asked whether the former leader is fit for trial. On Aug. 1, a bomb exploded outside the residence of Philippine Ambassador Leonides Caday, killing two people and injuring dozens, including the envoy.

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