Saturday, July 18, 2009

Suicide blasts at Jakarta Ritz, Marriott kill 8


JAKARTA, Indonesia – Suicide bombers posing as guests attacked American luxury hotels in Indonesia's capital and set off a pair of blasts Friday that killed eight people and wounded more than 50, authorities said.
The bombings, which came two minutes apart, ended a four-year lull in terror attacks in the world's most populous Muslim nation. At least eight Americans were among the wounded.
The blasts at the high-rise J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, located side-by-side in an upscale business district in Jakarta, blew out windows and scattered debris and glass across the street, kicking up a thick plume of smoke. An Associated Press reporter saw bodies being carried away in police trucks.
The attackers evaded hotel security, smuggling explosives into the Marriott and assembling the bombs in a room on the 18th floor, where an undetonated device was found after the explosions. The bombers had stayed at the hotel for two days and set off the blasts in restaurants at both hotels.
"They had been using the room as their 'command post' since July 15, and today they were supposed to check out," police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said.
Security video footage captured the moment of the explosion in the Marriott. The brief, grainy images show a man wearing a cap and pulling a bag on wheels walking across the lobby toward the restaurant, followed by a flash and smoke filling the air.
"There was a big explosion followed by a shock wave," said Ahmad Rochadi, a security guard at the Marriott who was checking cars in the basement. "I rushed upstairs and saw smoke billowing from the lobby."
Alex Asmasubrata, who was jogging nearby, said he walked into the Marriott before emergency services arrived and "there were bodies on the ground, one of them had no stomach," he said. "It was terrible."
The attack occurred as the Marriott was hosting a regular meeting of top foreign executives at major companies in Indonesia organized by the consultancy firm CastleAsia, said the group, which is headed by an American.
An Australian think tank, the Strategic Policy Institute, had warned the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah might launch new attacks just a day before Friday's deadly strike.
Authorities did not immediately name a suspect, but suspicion fell on the Jemaah Islamiyah or its allies. Theal-Qaida-linked network is blamed for past attacks in Indonesia, including a 2003 bombing at the Marriott in which 12 people died.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the attack was carried out by a "terrorist group" and vowed to arrest the perpetrators. He also suggested a possible link last week's national presidential election.
More on Yahoo! News..

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