March 1, 2007 / 5:31 AM / 11 years ago

"Al Qaeda" invoked in U.S. embassy Jakarta threat

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A bomb threat against the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Thursday was conveyed to authorities by a pair of cell phone text messages signed, “al Qaeda,” local officials said.

“We received an SMS at 11:22 (0422 GMT) saying, ‘We will blow up the U.S. embassy in Jakarta in 30 minutes. Al-Qaeda,'” Desab Alkhoili, an officer at the Traffic Management Center told Reuters. “We received the same SMS again at 11:23.”

A U.S. embassy spokesman confirmed the threat, as relayed by police, and said security officials searched the heavily-fortified compound and found nothing suspicious. He said it was the second such incident in recent days.

Authorities gave the sender’s mobile telephone number as 628 522 999 2392 -- a prepaid number virtually impossible to track. All attempts to contact the sender failed.

A Reuters photographer on the scene said that there was no sign of any evacuation of embassy personnel. However, Indonesians and others lining up for U.S. visas were told to leave the area.

Last month, the central bank complex in the capital was evacuated for several hours after a bomb threat sent by text message, but staff were later given the all-clear by police.

There have been several bomb attacks in Jakarta and other parts of the country in recent years, some of them the work of Islamic militants aiming at targets with Western ties. There have also been bomb threats that have proved to be hoaxes.

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