Indonesian police insist an explosion near the venue of last night’s presidential debate was a firecracker, not a bomb, despite the blast tearing a hole in the base of a tree where it landed.
The blast occurred while President Joko Widodo and challenger Prabowo Subianto were on stage at Jakarta’s Sultan Hotel for a televised pre-election debate.
A crowd had gathered on the side of a road about 500 metres away to watch the event on large screens and to show their support for their preferred candidate.
CCTV footage shows several vehicles moving past the crowd, before a blast and a plume of dark smoke rolls across the street.
Andri Setiawan was standing nearby when the explosion went off.
“I thought it was a bomb … I ran, even though my ear was in pain,” he told ABC.
“People were screaming ‘Bomb! Bomb! Bomb!’ and then the police came to find out whether it’s a real bomb or not.”
The force of the explosion ripped the leaves off nearby bushes and blasted out a small hole in the dirt next to the tree.
Footage recorded on mobile phones showed people running in fear, while a voice, amplified by loudspeaker, urged them not to panic.
Police moved rapidly to restrict access to the area, further adding to the confusion.
They quickly declared the area safe and reopened the road, insisting the blast was not caused by a bomb.
Indonesia has been plagued by deadly acts of terrorism, most recently in May last year, when several families blew up themselves and their children in a string of attacks in Surabaya.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 40 injured when one family targeted Sunday mass congregations in the country’s second-largest city.
The family’s father carried out one of the attacks by exploding a car bomb, while the man’s two sons, aged 18 and 16, used a motorbike in their attack.
Their mother carried out another attack with her two children, aged 12 and nine.
The next day a second family took their eight-year-old daughter to a suicide bomb attack launched on the police headquarters in Surabaya
The girl, who was with two of the attackers on a motorcycle, survived after being thrown by the blast, which killed the four perpetrators.
Six civilians and four officers were wounded.
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During the debate both Mr Widodo and Mr Subianto spoke about the importance of bioenergy to ease reliance on imported fuel.
Mr Widodo promised to implement a program under which fuel would be made entirely from palm oil.
Mr Subianto said he would boost the use of palm oil, palm sugar, cassava and sugar cane to produce energy.