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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Al-Qaida Plot Forces Closure of Western Schools in Jakarta

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The al-Qaida network that carried out the terrorist attack in Bali is responsible for past plots against the United States in Southeast Asia and is now planning to strike at Western students at international schools in Jakarta, Western and Indonesian officials said Monday.

The plan to attack the schools was uncovered in the last few days, and officials said the schools would be closed until at least Wednesday.

Officials declined to say precisely how they had learned of the plot, but the United States and Australia have stepped up their electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering here since the Bali attack on Oct. 12, which killed more than 180 people, many of them Australians.

The intelligence about the plot against the schools was as "specific in detail and of similar seriousness" to that which caused the U.S. government to order the closing of the American Embassy here in September, the diplomat said. That threat caused the United States to go on a heightened alert.

Based on the latest information gathered by Western intelligence agencies, diplomats said the planned attack was directed primarily at the Jakarta International School. The school has 2,500 students, about a third of whom are Americans, on three campuses across this teeming city. It has classes from kindergarten through high school.

The Australian and British schools also plan to close, diplomats said Sunday. They are to remain closed until the Indonesian police provide adequate security, a diplomat said.

Protecting students is difficult not only at the schools, officials said, but also on their way, because they typically travel on buses that take designated routes, or are driven by their parents in cars that bunch up outside the schools before the class day.