NEWS

Suicide Bombers Attack Two Luxury Hotels in Indonesian Capital

By Matthew Harwood

Two suicide bombers attacked two luxury hotels popular with Western tourists on Friday morning in Jakarta, ripping off the facade of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and killing at least eight people and wounding more than 50, according to various media reports.

According to The New York Times:

The explosions, which occurred shortly before 8 a.m., struck the JW Marriott Hotel and the nearby Ritz-Carlton Hotel, blasting through the hotels’ public areas as foreigners and Indonesians gathered for breakfast, witnesses told news services. The windows just above the ground floor of the Ritz-Carltonwere shattered and thick plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the site.

Video images showed rescue workers carrying away the wounded, many of whom were Indonesian. At least 13 of the injured were foreigners, according to the Indonesian minister for security affairs, Widodo Adi Sucipto, and they included citizens of Australia, South Korea, India, the Netherlands, and Norway.

At least one of the attackers is believed to have stayed at the Marriott, reports BBC.com.

An unexploded bomb and other explosives material were found in room 1808, which officials said was the "control centre" of the attacks.

National police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said: "We still don't know who booked room 1808."

The Jakarta Post reports that the attack was carried out with low explosives, not TNT as earlier supposed.

“We only found a black powder residue from debris at the two sites. There was no TNT. The bombs that went off were low explosives,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Nanan Sukarna said.

This is the second time since the turn of the century that a suicide bombing has occurred at the Marriott. In 2003, a suicide bomber drove into the hotel, killing 12 and wounding 150.

According to Time, the attacks have punctured Indonesia's recent calm.

Indonesia's deadliest bombings took place in 2002 in Bali when 202 people died (the single largest group of victims being Australians); JI claimed responsibility. Then came the first Marriott attack, followed by an explosion at the Australian embassy in Jakarta. The last terrorist attack in Indonesia was in October 2005 when 20 people were killed by suicide bombers, also in Bali. Since then, Indonesia has been pretty safe. With the help of American and Australian counterterrorism experts, and the support of the public, the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has rounded up hundreds of militants since he took office in 2004, and killed in shootouts many senior militants. However, Noordin Top, one of the masterminds of the first Bali bombings in 2002, remains at large.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, terrorism experts and Indonesian authorities suspect the al Qaeda-tied jihadist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)—which is also believed to have carried out the earlier Marriott bombing.

But President Yudhoyono left room for other suspects, saying "This terrorist action is believed to have been carried out by a terrorist group but not necessarily a terrorist network that we have known thus far in Indonesia. I have instructed law enforcers to put on trial whomever is involved in this terrorist action ... regardless of their political status."

For more on how hotels can prevent terrorist attacks, see Security Management's April cover, "Ensuring an Uneventful Stay," by Associate Editor Laura Spadanuta.


♦ Photo of JW Marriott in Jakarta by UweBKK/Flickr

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