The Jakarta Post , JAKARTA | Sat, 07/18/2009 10:45 AM | Headlines
The aftermath: A restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel was seriously damaged by a bomb blast on Friday. Eight people were killed in the bombings, which also targeted the nearby JW Marriott hotel.(Courtesy of Presidential Office)
“We thought it couldn’t possibly happen again,” lamented Evrida, a mother whose son was injured in the bombings.
Her thoughts echoed many others’. Five years after the last terrorist attack in Jakarta and four years after the horrific bombing in Bali, two suicide bombers reminded Indonesians of the horrors of
terrorism, blowing themselves up almost simultaneously at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Kuningan, South Jakarta, Friday morning.
As the nation was sent reeling, police were busy piecing together the puzzle of how terrorists were able to exploit two hotels renowned for their strict security.
National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri confirmed that police found two charred bodies, one at each hotel, believed to be those of the suicide bombers.
Bambang claims that at least one of the bombs was assembled in room 1808 of the JW Marriott, where police detected an active bomb that they quickly defused.
“The tenant of the room had checked in a few days ago,” he said.
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Wahyono said the defused bomb was small, homemade, and found in a laptop bag in the room.
“It contained black powder and not TNT,” he said, adding the police found no TNT residue in either of the hotels.
According to Wahyono, the bomb also contained small nails, prompting investigators to believe the bombs used in the blasts were similar to those used in the 2003 attack on the same JW Marriott Hotel.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Nanan Sukarna said the suspected bomber past Ritz-Carlton’s security officers without being properly checked.
“He carried a laptop bag, just like the bag we found in room 1808 of the JW Marriott,” he said.
“When he went through the detector, it was beeping. The officer asked the man, ‘Is that a laptop?’, the man answered ‘Yes’, and the officers let the person in,” Nanan said.
What started out as a regular Friday ended in tragedy for many.
Edward Thiessen, manager of Alstom Indonesia, was among those attending a breakfast meeting at the JW Marriott hotel.
“He is injured and currently being treated, but he is alert and expected to recover soon,” said Anita Bonang, marketing and communications manager of PT Alstom Power Energy Systems Indonesia.
President director of Kiroyan Partners, Noke Kiroyan, who was also at the meeting, said the breakfast roundtable, hosted by Castle Asia, had been a regular occurrence for a decade. Noke was later released from hospital with a damaged right ear and swollen eyes.
Others in attendence were not so lucky. Dutchman Max Boon of Castle Asia had to have his leg amputated, while New Zealander Timothy MacKay, CEO of PT Holcim Indonesia, later died in Hospital.
Meanwhile, acting Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said “this will not weaken our efforts to convince everybody that, despite what has happened, Indonesia is, from all economic aspects, strongly competitive”.
Many have blamed the bombings on intelligence failures.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the National Intelligence Body and police had been preoccupied with the elections.
Win, an employee of the Ritz-Carlton, said the Airlangga Restaurant was usually full of expatriates between 7 and 10 a.m.
“It is the place where many bule [foreigners] hang out and have breakfast every day,” she said.
Of the six innocents killed, as many as four could be foreigners.
Puji, a driver for a tenant of the Airlangga Apartment, was directly below the restaurant seconds before the blast.
“I was washing my boss’ car when suddenly I heard a blast. Apparently, it came from the JW Marriott hotel, I ran to find out what happened there,” Puji continued. “I was still running towards the first explosion when suddenly I hear another blast. It was right from the place I washed car. When I came back, my boss’ car was ruined. Thank God I left the place,” he said.
Like Puji, Win was saved by fate.
“I was supposed to be at work at 8 a.m.,” she said. “But I came late. “I don’t know what would have happen to me if I was on time.”
Bombings in Indonesia in recent years
Aug. 1 : Two killed and Philippine ambassador wounded in a blast outside his Jakarta home.
Sept. 13 : Blast at Jakarta stock exchange kills 15 and wounds dozens.
Dec. 24 : Series of Christmas Eve blasts at Jakarta churches and elsewhere in the country kill 17 and wound about 100.
Oct. 12 : Blasts on tourist island Bali kill 202, many of them foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.
Dec. 5 : Blast in McDonald’s restaurant in Makassar kills three.
Aug. 5 : Bomb outside JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta kills 12, wounding 150.
Jan. 10 : Bomb kills four in a karaoke cafe in Palopo.
Sept. 9 : Bomb near the Australian embassy kills 10, wounds more than 100.
Nov. 13 : Explosion near a police station in Sulawesi kills five and wounds four.
May 28 : Two bombs rip through a market in Tentena, killing 22.
Oct. 2 : Suicide bombers in Bali kill 20 people, including foreign tourists, wounding more than 100.
July 17 : Bomb blasts at JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels kill 8 and wound 52.