Friday, July 17, 2009

Fatal blasts hit Jakarta hotels !

Eyewitnesses tell of the blasts in Jakarta

At least nine people, including some foreigners, have been killed in two bomb blasts at luxury hotels in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police say.

One explosion hit the Ritz-Carlton, ripping off its facade, and the other the Marriott Hotel. At least 48 people were injured.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has visited the scene and condemned "the cruel and inhuman attack".

Indonesia suffered a number of bomb attacks - mainly linked to the militant group Jemaah Islamiah - in the first years of the century, but has been relatively peaceful since 2005.

President Yudhoyono said Friday's attacks were carried out by a suspected terrorist group and he vowed to catch those responsible.

"This undermines the security situation in the country," he said.

Officials said there were indications that suicide bombers had carried out the attacks.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key confirmed that a New Zealand national was among the dead.

Reuters news agency named him as Tim Mackay, president director of PT Holcim Indonesia, quoting the company's marketing director Patrick Walser.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd condemned the attacks as "barbaric". "Any attack anywhere is an attack on us all," he said.

There were reports of a third explosion in northern Jakarta a few hours later but it was not immediately clear what the cause was.

The Manchester United football team was due to arrive in Indonesia on Saturday and was booked to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.

The team have now called off the Indonesian leg of their tour, saying they "cannot fulfil the fixture in Jakarta" against an Indonesia Super League XI on 20 July.

The first two blasts, in Jakarta's central business district, occurred at about 0730 (0030 GMT).

Dec 2000 - Church bombings kill 19
Oct 2002 - Bali attacks kill 202, many Australian
Dec 2002 - Sulawesi McDonald's kills three
Aug 2003 - Jakarta Marriott Hotel bomb kills 12
Sept 2004 - Bomb outside Australian embassy in Jakarta
Sept 2005: Suicide attacks in Bali leave 23 dead, including bombers

Police said another, unexploded, bomb had also been found at the JW Marriott.

Presidential adviser Djali Yusuf told the AFP news agency that the unexploded bomb had been found in what he called the "control centre" of the attacks - room 1808 in the Marriott - where other explosives material was discovered.

Security guard Eko Susanto told AFP: "I heard two sounds like 'boom, boom' coming from the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton. Then I saw people running out."

Businessman Geoffrey Head, who was in the Ritz Carlton, told the BBC he did not hear the blast but that his colleagues had called him after it happened to tell him to leave the building.

"I looked out of the window - I could see down to ground level and I saw there was a lot of broken glass. I thought it was time to actually get out."


Mr Head said there had been no warning to evacuate the building.

"The surreal thing was going down in the elevator and walking through the lobby and looking across to my left and noticing the cafe was completely blown out," he said.

Myra Junor, who witnessed the blasts from a nearby building, told Reuters that windows on the lower floors of the Ritz-Carlton had shattered.

A 50-year-old South Korean man, Cho In-sang, was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

"I don't remember exactly but suddenly the ceiling is falling down and the sound was big," he said.

Consular staff are trying to track their nationals, and Australia issued a warning against unnecessary travel to Indonesia.

The attacks come just weeks after the peaceful presidential elections.

The country of 240 million people has been praised in recent years for maintaining a pluralist democracy while finding and punishing radical Islamists responsible for a series of bombings more than five years ago.

Attacks on two nightclubs in Bali in October 2002 killed 202 people, most of them Australian.

The Marriott Hotel was the target of a bomb attack in August 2003 in which 13 people were killed.

Since then, a combination of new laws, anti-terror training, international cooperation and reintegration measures have kept Indonesia peaceful, analysts have said.




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