Jakarta condemns terror threat
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- The Indonesian Government has vowed it will not be intimidated by threats following the discovery of a suspected biological agent mailed to the Indonesian embassy in Australia.
A full scale emergency was triggered Wednesday morning when an embassy official discovered a white powder after opening an envelope addressed to Indonesia's Ambassador in Australia, Imron Cotan.
Indonesian Foreign Ministery spokesman Marty Natalegawa described the attack as a "cowardly act".
"This is a serious development," Natalegawa said.
"We will not succumb to such acts of intimidation, particularly such a cowardly one. We will not be intimidated in this way," he said.
Indonesian politicians have called for travel warnings to be issued for its citizens travelling to Australia, a report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said such a response was to be expected in the circumstances.
The Indonesian embassy in Canberra remains closed and staff have been sent home after undergoing a decontamination process following the attack.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he had been briefed on the contents of a note included with the biological agent but would not comment on its contents at this stage, citing the police investigation.
Downer could not confirm whether the threat was related to last week's jailing of convicted Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby.
"We understand the parcel was sent from (the southern state of) Victoria. We can't say if it was directly related to the Schapelle Corby case," he said.
Natalegawa told Metro TV in Indonesia: "If this act turns out to be related to Corby, we hope that the Australian people do not make an enemy of the Indonesian people."
The attack was strongly condemned by both sides of Australian politics comes as Canberr'a relationship with Jakarta was strengthening after going through a difficult period following Australia's leading of a U.N.-backed intervention force in the former Imndonesian province East Timor.
Howard has apologized to Indonesia for the attack which he described as a "reckless act of indifference to human life."
He said it would be remarkable if the incident was not linked to Corby's case.
"Quite apart from the murderous criminality of doing something like this ... it won't achieve the objective. It will have the opposite effect," Howard said.
"The advice I have is that the reference "biological agent' does not mean it is benign.
"But when you send a substance of this type, if the analysis proves correct, it's an act of reckless indifference to human life and I apologize on behalf of the Australian people to the Indonesian Embassy and to the Indonesian government," he said.
The threat on the embassy comes amid a torrent of ill-feeling towards Indonesia in Australia and follows death threats made to the Indonesian embassy in Canberra last month and the sending of bullets to the Indonesian consulate in Perth in April.
Last Friday 27-year-old Corby was sentenced to 20 years jail for smuggling 4.1 kilograms (9 lbs) of marijuana into the resort island of Bali last October.
The verdict and her sentence have generated outrage in Australia.
Recent polls show the vast majority of Australians believe Corby to be innocent of the charges, accepting her explanation that marijuana found in her possession was placed in one of her unlocked bags by Australian baggage handlers involved in the drugs trade.
Downer has repeatedly called for Australians to stop "berating and denigrating" Indonesia over the conviction.
Supporters of Corby should understand "she's being held in Indonesia and if they want her back in Australia ultimately any decision about her future will be in the hands of the Indonesians," Downer told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio Monday.
"So continuing to berate and denigrate Indonesia isn't going to help anyone."
Prime Minister Howard said Friday he understood why Australians felt so deeply about the Corby case.
"The fact that we are a nation whose young travel so much, it is an issue that has touched this country very directly," he said.
Many callers to radio talk shows in Australia said they regretted making donations to Indonesian tsunami victims, The Associated Press reported.
Others called for Australians to boycott the popular holiday destination of Bali and Indonesian products.