- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia More than 1,000 protesters burned U.S. flags and an effigy of President Bush outside the U.S. Embassy yesterday as some of its diplomats prepared to leave the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The exodus of many embassy staffers and their families came after extremist Islamic groups threatened to round up and attack Americans even though Indonesia's government supported Washington's war against terrorism.

After a week of demonstrations across Indonesia, yesterday's rally was by far the largest.The crowd swelled to about 1,000 protesters at one point.

Chanting "go to America," they set fire to U.S. and Israeli flags and burned an effigy of Mr. Bush. Hundreds of heavily armed riot police stood guard, but did not intervene.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Gelbard criticized Indonesia's police for not moving against activists who vowed to kill him and attack the embassy if Washington conducted strikes against Afghanistan or other Islamic nations.

"They have not been prepared to act, to warn or to arrest people who break the law when there are threats against the lives of Americans," the ambassador said.

Mr. Gelbard spoke to reporters after he and the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Thomas Fargo, met with Indonesian Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The U.S. Embassy did not say how many diplomats were leaving.

"The Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure of all U.S. government personnel in non-emergency positions and family members in Indonesia," said an embassy statement.

On Wednesday, the department warned Americans to stay away from Indonesia, saying the terrorist attacks on the United States had "significantly" raised safety concerns.

The department has said "extremist elements may be planning to target U.S. interests in Indonesia."

During the past week, small groups of Muslims have held daily demonstrations in front of the embassy as well as outside the U.S. Consulate in the port city of Surabaya.

An organizer of yesterday's demonstration in Jakarta called on the government to abandon its support of the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign.

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