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Indonesia Making Progress in Hotel Bombing Investigation - 2003-08-12


Indonesian police said they have made significant progress in the investigation of last week's bombing at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta, but they have not arrested a suspect.

Indonesian police said two key suspects in the hotel attack are the men who bought the car that held the bomb detonated at the J.W. Marriott hotel.

At a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia's chief of detectives, General Erwin Mapasseng, held up sketches of two young Indonesian men he says bought the used car.

General Mapasseng sayid one of the suspects is thin, roughly 1.68 meters tall, fair-skinned, with average nose and eyes. The general said the man speaks softly, using a Sumatran accent.

At least 11 people died after a car bomb was detonated a week ago at the Marriot in central Jakarta. The luxury hotel was a popular meeting place for Westerners and wealthy Indonesians. Nearly 150 people were injured.

No suspects have been arrested.

Police also released more details about the bomb. The bombers put seven large containers in the back of the car. Three were filled with the explosives TNT, RDX, Tetril, and sulfur and carbon. The other four contained gasoline and kerosene to add fuel to the blast.

Police have commented that the suspected driver of the car, Asmar Latinsani, might have been a suicide bomber. But General Mapasseng said that has not been confirmed. Mr. Asmar's remains were found at the hotel site.

Within hours of the blast, police remarked on its similarities with the terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali last October 12 that killed 202 people. Authorities say that attack was the work of the regional terror ring, Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to the al-Qaida network.

The bombing of a house owned by the Philippines ambassador in August 2000 is also linked to Jemaah Islamiyah.

Indonesia's defense minister has said that the group was to blame for the Marriott bomb. Police, however, are less certain.

The general said that although the methods used were similar to the Bali bombing and the bombing of the Philippines ambassador, it does not mean police have decided yet the same group carried out the Marriott bombing.

Indonesian prosecutors demanded a 15-year prison sentence for Jemaah Islamiyah's alleged spiritual chief, Abu Bakar Bashir. Mr. Bashir is being tried on charges of treason for his alleged part in a series of smaller bombings, and a foiled plan to assassinate President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Mr. Bashir denies the charges.

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