Terrorist escapes under burqa

Last updated 00:00 10/11/2012

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Indonesian police said they would increase security checks on burqa-clad visitors at prisons in the capital after a convicted terrorist apparently escaped under the Islamic veil.

Roki Aprisdianto, 29, sentenced to six years behind bars in 2011, managed to escape undetected Tuesday from the Jakarta Police detention center - home to 70 terrorist inmates - when 23 burqa-clad women came to visit their husbands.

The convicted militant allegedly put on a burqa smuggled in by a visitor, said Jakarta police spokesman Col. Rikwanto. Another inmate told police he saw Aprisdianto wearing a burqa, but no one was recorded visiting him.

Police will staff additional female guards at prisons in Jakarta to conduct security checks in a closed room for women wearing burqas, said Rikwanto, who like many Indonesians uses one name. He said women previously were never asked to lift their veils.

"From now on, all burqa-clad visitors who enter and leave the prison will be checked thoroughly," Rikwanto said. "We don't want to neglect this again."

Police are still searching for Aprisdianto, who led a small terrorist cell and was arrested in 2010 for masterminding a series of bombings that targeted churches and police stations in Central Java province. There were no reports of injuries in the attacks.

Indonesia has been battling terrorists since the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Most of Indonesia's 210 million Muslims practice a moderate style of Islam that condemns violence, and the government has worked to root out militants, arresting more than 700 of them since the Bali bombings and killing dozens more.

Terrorist attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting mainly police and anti-terrorism forces.

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- AP

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