It could have been anywhere, say expats in the line of fire

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 September, 2004, 12:00am

Australia tells its nationals to consider leaving, but most plan to stay put

The bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta yesterday demonstrated that foreigners in Indonesia are prime terrorism targets.

But most western expatriates said they would hang tough rather than pull out of the country.

'It does make you feel less secure, but I wouldn't think of leaving,' said British-born teacher Alan Llewellyn, 34, who moved to Jakarta in 1992. 'Terrorism is just a part of life now. You have to accept it wherever you are.'

But Australian Rob Hindmarsh, who felt the shock of yesterday's blast while sitting in a hotel lobby about 1.5km away, said he was unnerved by the apparent targeting of Australians.

'This is not the first time I've heard or even felt a bomb in my eight years in Indonesia,' said the 42-year-old corporate executive.

'In the past I would have disregarded the thought of leaving, but terrorists targeting the Australian embassy directly is a bit closer to home, so now I am contemplating it a bit.'

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reiterated a warning against non-essential travel to Indonesia and suggested Australians worried about their safety consider leaving. 'We continue to receive reports that terrorists in the region are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners,' it said.

Australian Greg Hinchliffe, 38, who has lived in Bali for 14 years and regularly commutes to Jakarta, said he did not feel any less secure. 'I don't believe living in Indonesia is any larger risk today than it was yesterday,' said the businessman, whose Australian colleague cancelled a Jakarta meeting following the bombing.

'I believe it's a very small minority of radicals who are causing terrorist attacks in Indonesia and I also believe that they are being isolated by the general public with every attack that they commit.'

New Zealander Karen Peterson, who has lived in Jakarta for three years, said Indonesia was not as unsafe as the news made out. 'These things are happening all over the world. It's just unfortunate that Indonesia gets such bad press,' she said.