A coordinated bomb attack on two foreign-run luxury hotels in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta early Friday morning has left at least 50 wounded and eight dead, including a number of foreigners. Senior officials suspect that the bombings involve terrorist suicide attacks and have vowed swift action against the perpetrators.
The first bomb went off in the basement of the J.W. Marriot at 7:45 a.m. local time, according to the Associated Press. The hotel had already fallen victim to a bombing in 2003 by the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah, which killed 12 people and wounded up to 150.
The second bomb went off two minutes later in a restaurant in the adjacent Ritz-Carlton hotel. The bombs left the smoke-filled streets strewn with glass and debris. Friday's bombings come after a four-year lull in terrorist attacks in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation with a population of 235 million.
Four years ago, terrorists perpetrated triple suicide attacks on restaurants on the Indonesian island of Bali. The blasts killed 20, including the three bombers, and left over 120 injured, including many foreign tourists. Three years earlier, another series of bombings left 202 people dead, including 152 foreigners. Both the 2002 and 2005 attacks have been linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, and experts suspect the Islamic group may be behind the latest acts of terrorism.
EU Conveys Deepest Sympathies
In Germany, the federal government "strongly condemned" the bombings. "The perpetrators and backers behind this attack must be captured and made accountable for their actions," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm added: "The attacks will simply encourage the international community not to neglect the fight against international terror."
Sweden, which currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, also strongly condemned the attacks on Friday. In a statement, the EU presidency said: "The European Union condemns today's bomb attacks in Jakarta that have killed and injured so many innocent people. The European Union conveys its deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of these brutal acts. We stand in sympathy and solidarity with the Indonesian government and the Indonesian people in this most difficult time."
Local authorities in Indonesia reported Friday that the dead include a New Zealander and among the wounded are 18 individuals from Australia, Canada, India, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and the United States.
Police also found another, unexploded bomb in a room at the Marriot, and Jakarta's police chief told the AP that the suspected bombers had disguised themselves as guests at the hotel.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed his government would respond swiftly. "Those who carried out this attack and those who planned it will be arrested and tried," Yudhoyono told the nation in a televised address. He also added that "it was too early to say" if the attack was carried out by Jemaah Islamiyah.
Senior government officials have told the AP that there were "indications of suicide bombs," but others have cautioned that it is too early to draw such conclusions. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.