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Jakarta Post

I thought it was a fake explosion, says witness of blast at Jakarta’s Monas

  • Vela Andapita
    Vela Andapita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 3, 2019   /   04:07 pm
I thought it was a fake explosion, says witness of blast at Jakarta’s Monas The explosion took many people by surprise as it occurred just across the Home Ministry building — which is around 400 meters from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s office at the State Palace.  (Antara/Nova Wahyudi)

It was 7 a.m. on Tuesday and people were going about their daily morning routines on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta when they heard a blast from the northern side of the National Monument (Monas) complex.

The explosion took many people by surprise as it occurred just across the Home Ministry building — which is around 400 meters from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s office at the State Palace. 

Sukandi, an eyewitness and cleaning service officer at Monas, was sweeping up leaves some 30 meters away from the scene when the blast occurred.

“There were many military officers exercising. I thought it was a fake explosion made to, probably, commence the exercise or a ceremony,” he told The Jakarta Post three hours after the incident.

Despite being shocked by the loud sound, Sukandi said he was not suspicious. He neither thought if it was a bomb nor a grenade.

“It was so loud, just as loud as the shooting sound of a canon during the Independence Day flag-raising ceremony in front of the State Palace,” the 50-year-old said.

“A few minutes afterward, I began to notice people rushing to one spot. I followed them and saw two people bleeding. I couldn’t stand to look at the scene, so I returned to where I was working and continued sweeping,” he added.

Sukandi went on to say that one of his colleagues who happened to be sweeping in the area where the explosion occurred, had been taken to the Central Jakarta Police headquarters to be questioned as a witness.

Read also: Explosion at Jakarta's Monas: What we know so far

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Gatot Eddy Pramono confirmed the blast was caused by a smoke grenade that had been found by two military garrison members, Sgt. Maj. Fajar and Chief Pvt. Gunawan, who were among TNI personnel doing their morning exercises in the area on Tuesday morning.

The two soldiers sustained injuries, with Fajar sustaining a severe wound on his left hand because he was holding the grenade when it exploded. They have been admitted to Gatot Subroto Army Hospital for treatment. 

The police were investigating why the grenade was there and looking into whether the incident could be linked to terrorism. 

The incident also caught the attention of passersby working and commuting in the area, as many of them flocked to Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara — behind the fence of the monument complex — to see what was happening there. 

App-based ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver Wawan Budiawan, for instance, decided to park his motorcycle by the side of the road and approached the crowd around the scene. Using his mobile phone, he took pictures from behind the fence.

“I didn’t hear the explosion; I was dropping a passenger off at Gambir Station,” he told the Post. Gambir Station is located southeast of Monas.

After finishing his trip, Wawan accepted another order near Tanah Abang, hence he went ahead and was turning left onto Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara when he noticed people flocking to a spot across the Home Ministry building.

“I read from a WhatsApp group that an explosion had just occurred there. I completed the trip [from Tanah Abang to Sarinah] and rushed here to check again; I was curious,” he said.