- A huge
car bomb killed 10 people and wounded dozens more after ripping through
a luxury hotel in the heart of Indonesia's capital.
- The city's governor said a suicide bomber was probably
responsible for the attack -- timed as thousands of office workers poured
onto the streets for their lunch break.
- Jakarta detective Andi Chaeruddin said the blast originated
in the basement of the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuningan on one of the main
roads through Jakarta's business district.
- Police spokesman Prasetyo said one foreigner was among
the 10 killed and two Americans, two Singaporeans, an Australian and a
New Zealander among the 83 injured.
- "It was like an earthquake," said Mellani Solagratia,
the hotel's public relations manager.
- Flames and thick clouds of smoke billowed from the lobby
area of the hotel hours after the blast. Cars and other vehicles were set
ablaze and staff and guests swiftly evacuated -- many leaving half-eaten
meals on their tables in the hotel's restaurants.
- "There is a strong possibility this was a suicide
bomber," said Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso.
- Defence Minister Matori Abdul Djalil was more blunt,
saying it was a bomb and calling it "clearly an act of terrorism".
- Washington said last week that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda
network was planning new suicide hijackings and bombings in the United
States and abroad. The U.S. embassy held its 4th of July independence celebrations
at the hotel.
- The bomb coincided with high-profile trials in Indonesia
of suspected Islamic militants on bomb-related charges -- including that
of influential Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, accused of leading the Jemaah
Islamiah network blamed for a series of attacks on Western targets in the
- Warnings of attacks
- "Intelligence agencies have warned for months now
of the possibility of attacks and the bulk of Jemaah Islamiah remains at
large," said security expert Andrew Tan at Singapore's Institute of
Defence and Strategic Studies.
- "This shouldn't be a surprise because in the last
couple of months there have been indications that more terrorist attacks
are entirely plausible in a place like Indonesia."
- A court in Bali was expected on Thursday to deliver its
first verdict in the trials of those charged with planting bombs that killed
202 people on the resort island in October last year.
- The Marriott -- popular with foreign businessmen -- is
close to the diplomatic area of Menteng where dozens of Western embassies
and consulates are based.
- Menteng, Jakarta's most exclusive suburb, is also home
to Indonesian cabinet members, lawmakers, senior army officials and tycoons.
- The explosion had an immediate effect on Indonesia's
financial markets with stocks falling an initial five percent and the currency
also slipping against the dollar.
- The Marriott, which opened in September 2001 and has
33 floors and 333 rooms, is the latest luxury hotel in the bustling city,
home to over 10 million people.
- © Reuters