Indonesia's president maintains support for war against terror, despite protests

Friday, October 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Despite a fifth day of anti-American protests in the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia's president refused Friday to withdraw from the international war on terrorism.

``Terrorism must be eradicated,'' President Megawati Sukarnoputri told reporters. ``We will continue to cooperate with the international community in handling this problem.''

Outside Jakarta's heavily guarded U.S. Embassy, about 1,000 Muslim activists demonstrated Friday for a fifth straight day. Police turned on water cannons on them when they set fire to American flags and an effigy of Uncle Sam.

Several people were injured in a scuffle with stick-wielding officers before hundreds marched to a U.N. building and the British embassy.

Several thousand people demonstrated in the industrial city of Bandung, and in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, four protesters and two police officers were injured in a clash outside the provincial parliament.

However, predictions by Islamic groups that tens of thousands of protesters would hit Jakarta's streets Friday failed to materialize.

Earlier, Parliament's Speaker Akbar Tandjung said Megawati should demand that the United States end its bombing campaign.

Also Friday, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda acknowledged that there were concerns in Indonesia that the attacks had resulted in the loss of civilian lives.

``We favor a collective response by the U.N. Security Council, understanding that terrorism of this magnitude is a threat to international peace and security,'' he told reporters.

But Megawati, one of the first foreign leaders to visit the United States after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said she had the ``full support of Parliament'' and that the ramifications of U.S. military action in Afghanistan had been discussed ``very intensely'' among legislators.

About 85 percent of Indonesia's 210 million people are Muslim, but only a small fraction appear vehemently opposed to the international fight against terrorism.

In Makassar on the island of Sulawesi, a small bomb exploded outside a KFC franchise early Friday, and another bomb found near a hotel was defused. No one was injured. Police said the locations might have been considered ``symbols of America.''