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Indonesia Holding 9 Suspects in Jakarta Hotel Bombing - 2003-08-17


Indonesia says it has nine suspects in custody for this month's bombing of a Jakarta hotel - the latest terrorist attack in Southeast Asia. The arrests come as U.S. officials interrogate the alleged head of the Southeast Asia terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, who was captured Monday in Thailand.

Amid extremely tight security for Indonesia's 58th Independence Day celebration, the national police chief announced Sunday there are now nine suspects in custody for the August 5 bombing the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

But authorities declined to identify the suspects or disclose any details in the on-going investigation.

The massive explosion killed 12 people and injured 150 others. It was the worst terrorist incident in Indonesia since the October bombing on Bali killed 202 mostly foreign tourists.

Officials believe both attacks are the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian Islamic militant group linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The elusive alleged leader of JI, an Indonesian man known as Hambali, was captured Monday in Thailand. He is being interrogated by U.S. officials at an undisclosed location.

He is wanted in for a series of terrorist attacks and plots in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Hambali is suspected to have been plotting an attack at the upcoming Asia Pacific Cooperation Summit scheduled for October in Thailand.

Jakarta-based analyst Sidney Jones, with the independent International Crisis Group, says Hambali's arrest is a significant achievement in the war on terror.

"Hambali's greatest asset was a combination of international contacts and a real strategic sense of where to target, how to target and how to bring the group together so that the attack came off," said Ms. Jones.

Despite his arrest, governments are warning that JI is still a major threat to the region. Speaking in Australia, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says it would be foolish not to assume that the APEC summit is still at risk of a terrorist strike. He told Australia's Channel Nine News that the region must still take every possible security precaution.

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