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Indonesian President Calls Hotel Bombings Acts of Terror


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says the two bombs that went off in the Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta, killing eight people and wounding at least 50 more, are acts of terrorism.

Police pushed back crowds as paramedics carried out the bodies of five people who died in the blast at the Marriott hotel in an upscale business district in south Jakarta. A second bomb exploded at the nearby Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Witnesses say they heard loud explosions and saw clouds of smoke and dust shortly before eight in the morning.

Iwan, a waiter who was working at a Ritz-Carlton restaurant where one bomb was reportedly detonated, survived unharmed. He says he does not know whether it was a bomb or not in the restaurant, but there was a powerful explosion.

Police say the bombs exploded inside the hotels. The perpetrators were somehow able to avoid extensive hotel security. Jakarta's police chief says several suspects were staying at the Marriott hotel, on the 18th floor where undetonated explosives were found.

The two hotels are connected by an underground tunnel but the president's spokesman, Dino Pati Djalal says it is too early to speculate on how the bombs were planted.

"The minister for security affairs has stated that this is something of, a bomb of a high explosive, that is how he described it," he said. "But exactly what kind, what type, and how was it exploded and what is the modus operandi, that all remains to be determined."

Although those responsible have not yet been identified, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called the bombings terrorism. He says no matter what nation or religion, terrorism cannot be justified, whatever the motive or reason.

This is the first terrorist attack in Indonesia in four years and the second time the Marriott Hotel was bombed. That last attack in 2003 was blamed on the Islamic terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which also was responsible for attacks around the country that claimed more than 230 lives over the past nine years.

The president, who won re-election last week, also said security officials had received intelligence of plots to disrupt the election and prevent him from being inaugurated. He says there were plans to take over the election committee headquarters and statements that there will be a revolution if Yudhoyono wins.

He did not say what group made these threats.

A number of international business leaders who were meeting in the Marriott, including American James Castle, were injured in the blast. A New Zealand businessman was killed and an Australian trade official, Craig Senger, is missing and feared dead.

The British soccer club Manchester United, which was booked to stay at the Ritz Carlton starting Saturday, has canceled its visit to Jakarta.

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