Indonesian police hunt for escaped McDonald's restaurant bomber

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesian security forces launched a nationwide search Monday after an Islamic militant escaped from prison, where he was serving a 19-year sentence for transporting explosives for a 2002 attack on a McDonald's restaurant, the national police chief said.

Wirahadi, who like many Indonesians uses one name, was the second Islamic militant in three months to make a daylight break from the prison on the central island of Sulawesi. Embarrassed officials were investigating the possible involvement of guards.

Wirahadi was among 17 men convicted for the blast that killed three people and wounded 15 at the McDonald's in South Sulawesi province. It came weeks after nightclub bombings killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, on the resort island of Bali.

Both attacks were blamed on Islamic militants with loose ties to al-Qaida.

Wirahadi, 26, broke out of Makassar prison Sunday with an accomplice and used a rope to scale a 5-meter (16-foot) wall topped by barbed wire, said the provincial prison chief, Sumarni Alam.

The other militant who escaped late last year also remained at large.

National police chief Gen. Sutanto said that he had ordered security forces to help local police by launching a nationwide search for the militants, but that interviews with family and friends had so far yielded no clues.

"I cannot tolerate this," Justice Minister Andi Matalatta told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Monday at the presidential palace in the capital, Jakarta. "Guards who neglected their duties or aided in the escape will face punishment."

The McDonald's blast was blamed on Laskar Jundullah, a little-known militant group that is believed to have links with the regional terror organization Jemaah Islamiyah, which has al-Qaida connections.

Indonesia has convicted scores of Islamic militants in recent years over a series of terrorist attacks, including 2002 and 2003 bombings at the J.W. Marriott Hotel and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and near-simultaneous strikes on three Bali restaurants in 2005.


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