Four days after thousands of Indonesian Muslims protested the alleged U.S. desecration of Islam’s Holy Quran, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta has closed until further notice, the State Department has said.
Citing terror threats, the United States closed down Consulate General offices and other government facilities, the agency said in a written statement. Reopenings will be posted on the Embassy’s Web site at http://jakarta.usembassy.gov.
Consular officers will be available in Jakarta and Surabaya to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens, the department said.
“The Embassy reminds all Americans that the terrorist threat in Indonesia remains high,” according to a State Department statement.
“Attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against any location, including those frequented by foreigners, and identifiably American and other Western facilities or businesses in Indonesia.”
Among the possible targets are neighborhoods where Westerners live, hotels, restaurants, churches, schools and recreational events.
The agency also reminded U.S. citizens to defer nonessential travel to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation — especially to areas hard-hit by December’s earthquake and tsunami.
“Americans should not travel to Aceh to participate in humanitarian relief efforts except under the auspices of a recognized assistance organization that has permission to operate in Indonesia,” the department said.
Indonesia has had three major bomb attacks in the past two years: Bombings at a Bali nightclub killed 202 people in 2002, a bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in September killed nine people, and a blast at the Marriott Hotel in the capital in October left a dozen people dead.
All three attacks were blamed on the regional Jemaah Islamiah militant group agitating for a Southeast Asian Islamic state. The United States considers the organization to be a terrorist group that is an arm of al Qaeda.
The Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf group — also considered a terrorist group by U.S. officials — poses an ongoing kidnapping threat in the region, the department added.
The agency advised Americans in Indonesia to keep a low profile, vary daily routines, avoid crowds and demonstrations, and keep abreast of local news and developments that may affect their security.
Following Sunday’s demonstration in Jakarta, Newsweek magazine retracted its statements on alleged mistreatment of the Quran. The protest was organized by 25 Islamic groups and political parties.