20 Jul 2009

NZ police help Jakarta bombing investigation

8:22 pm on 20 July 2009

Two New Zealand policemen are helping Indonesian authorities with their investigation into Friday's bombing in the capital Jakarta.

Suicide bombers targeted the Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels, killing nine people including New Zealander Timothy Mackay and injuring 53 others.

Two Australians were among those killed and Australian diplomat is missing and feared dead.

Officials suspect the explosions were masterminded by the extremist Noordin Top from the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

New Zealand's ambassador to Indonesia, Phillip Gibson, says the two New Zealand police at the embassy have been working closely with their Indonesian counterparts.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on Monday said the terrorism threat in Indonesia is high and it is continuing to advise against all non-essential travel there.

MFAT has so far confirmed that 149 out of 281 New Zealanders living in Jakarta are safe. Embassy staff have not found any injured New Zealanders after three visits to Jakarta's main hospitals.

MFAT has advised expatriates living in Jakarta to exercise a high degree of personal security awareness and avoid any unnecessary travel in the city. It says it has no reason to be concerned about the well-being of any person registered as being in Jakarta.

However, the ministry warns that terrorist attacks could happen at any time, anywhere in Indonesia.

Despite this, the First Secretary at Indonesia's embassy in Wellington, Tri Purnajaya, is encouraging New Zealanders not to cancel travel plans.

Mr Purnajaya is sure police will try to improve security in public places such as hotels, airports and restaurants.

While complete safety cannot be guaranteed, he says Indonesia is a relatively secure country, as long as travellers stay security conscious on their visits.