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ANALYSTS VIEWS – Jakarta hotel bomb blasts

in.reuters.com

ANALYSTS VIEWS – Jakarta hotel bomb blasts

REUTERS – Near-simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta’s business district on Friday, killing nine people and injuring 42 including foreigners and Indonesians, police said.

A car bomb had also exploded along a toll road in north Jakarta, police said. Indonesia’s Metro TV said two people had been killed. No further details on that blast were available.

The bomb attacks, the first in several years, could severely dent investor confidence in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The Indonesian government had made considerable progress in tackling security threats from militant Islamists in recent years, bringing a sense of greater political stability.

Islamist militants from the regional Jemaah Islamiah organisation were blamed for numerous attacks between 2002-2005 in Indonesia, including bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people. Many militants have since been arrested.

CALLUM HENDERSON, CHIEF GLOBAL CURRENCY STRATEGIST, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, SINGAPORE

“This is a tragic event. Market reaction to date has been relatively muted in anticipation that the government will stay on course and that policies will remain unchanged.

“Indonesia remains a fundamentally good story, thanks in large part to the excellent policies of the government in the last few years.

“It will take time to stabilise again, but we remain overweight on the rupiah.”

SEAN CALLOW, CURRENCY STRATEGIST, WESTPAC, SYDNEY

“I would say it damages foreign investor confidence since the attacks appear aimed at Westerners, but not shatter it, so long as there is no further violence for some time.

“Bank Indonesia should be able to keep a lid on dollar/rupiah short term, but it will have a lasting negative impact multi-week, multi-month.

“It solidifies my short-term bias towards buying dollar/rupiah on dips, especially since the rupiah is still up 18 percent since March.”

TIM CONDON, HEAD OF ASIA RESEARCH, ING, SINGAPORE

“I liken it to North Korea risks to South Korean assets. Typically it causes a short spike in selling pressure — but the operative word is short.

“Indonesia is vulnerable and the attacks are negative but people know these are impossible to predict and they are part of the economic landscape. It doesn’t totally eclipse all of the other investor positives — the economic fundamentals and the political fundamentals.

“The cost of protecting debt from Indonesia , one of the most frequent Asian sovereign issuers in the offshore market, was unchanged at 280/295 basis points.”

RAYMOND TANG, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CIMB ASSET MANAGEMENT, KUALA LUMPUR

“We are still positive on the economy and the developments there, despite the bombings. On a long-term perspective, we have not changed our view.

“We’re positive on the banking, the resources and the consumer sectors.

“You’ll get kneejerk reaction but if you look at how the Indonesian market has responded up to now, it’s down 1.3 percent and the currency is down half a percent … I think people are more positive than negative.”

KEVIN O’ROURKE, POLITICAL RISK ANALYST, REFORMASI WEEKLY

“I think the attacks are devastating for the image of security that Indonesia has built up painstakingly over the past four years.

“The attack is particularly severe for investor confidence because it took place despite strenuous counter-terrorist efforts by the government and has affected the hotels that are seen to be among the most secure in Jakarta and also either killed or wounded numerous prominent expatriate businesspeople.” O’Rourke said he suspected Jemaah Islamiah was responsible.

“It’s an explosion in a hotel. Jemaah Islamiah perpetrate explosions in hotels.”

WAWAN PURWANTO, ANALYST AT NGO NATIONAL EMPOWERMENT BOARD, JAKARTA “It is a high-tension period and it is likely to remain like that until October when the president is inaugurated.

“We already predicted this as we have seen some unknown movements after the election, like the incidents in Papua. So if something like this happens, it’s not a surprise.

“We will not make any assumption (as to who is behind the attacks) before seeing hard evidence.”

PRAKRITI SOFAT, ECONOMIST AT HSBC, SINGAPORE

“After the elections going off so peacefully, the bomb blasts have come as a shock. We don’t have all the details now but investors will be keeping a close eye on this one.”

JOANNA TAN, ECONOMIST, FORECAST PTE, SINGAPORE “I think investor confidence will definitely be shaken after this but ultimately, the positives from SBY continuing a second term and relatively good performance in the economy should keep investor confidence supported.”

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Jakarta hotel bombs kill 9, wound 42 – police

in.reuters.com

Jakarta hotel bombs kill 9, wound 42 – police

JAKARTA –  july 17  – Near-simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta’s business district on Friday, killing nine people and wounding 42 others including foreign businessmen, police said.

A car bomb had also exploded along a toll road in North Jakarta, police said. Indonesia’s Metro TV said two people had been killed. No further details on that blast were available.

The bomb attacks, the first in several years, could badly dent investor confidence in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The Indonesian government has made considerable progress in tackling security threats from militant Islamic groups in recent years, bringing a sense of greater political stability to the country.

Indonesia’s parliamentary elections in April and presidential elections earlier this month both passed peacefully, underscoring the progress made by the world’s most populous Muslim nation since the chaos and violence that surrounded the downfall of ex-autocrat Suharto in the late 1990s.

“After the elections going off so peacefully, the bomb blasts have come as a shock. Investors will be keeping a close eye on this one,” said Singapore-based HSBC economist Prakriti Sofat.

Windows were shattered at both hotels, which are close to each other in the Kuningan business area which is popular with foreigners and Indonesians, with many bars, offices and embassies.

Hundreds of police, some soldiers and ambulances were at the scene of the hotel attacks. A Reuters witness said about 100 foreign and Indonesian hotel guests and office workers were gathered outside, some still wearing bathrobes.

The windows in the first floor of the Ritz-Carlton were blown out, indicating the blast may have been in the restaurant, which would have been busy at that time of the morning.

The Marriott was badly damaged by a car bomb attack in 2003 that killed 12 people.

Police said foreigners were among the dead on Friday. Tim Mackay, president director of cement maker PT Holcim Indonesia, was killed in the attacks, the company said.

Indonesian financial markets fell after the blasts, with the rupiah down 0.7 percent at 10,200 per dollar, prompting state banks to sell dollars to support the currency, traders said. Indonesian stocks were down around 2 percent.

“I fell because of an explosion, I did not know where it came from, but after I saw clearly it came from the left side of the JW Marriott Hotel,” said Yanuar, an employee at the Marriott.

TV footage showed a wounded man being carried out on a stretcher with an oxygen mask attached to his face.

MANCHESTER UNITED WAS TO STAY AT RITZ

Lydia Ruddy, a witness who lives in the area, said she heard an explosion and saw smoke coming from the Marriott, followed five minutes later by another explosion at the Ritz-Carlton.

A Ritz Carlton employee said the Manchester United soccer team had been due to stay at the hotel ahead of an exhibition game in Indonesia early next week.

Islamist militants from the regional Jemaah Islamiah organisation were blamed for numerous attacks between 2002-2005 in Indonesia, including bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.

Many militants have since been arrested. But an Australian security report on Thursday said Jemaah Islamiah could be poised to strike again.

Leadership tensions in JI and recent prison releases of JI members raised the possibility that splinter groups might now seek to re-energise the movement through violent attacks, said the report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The report said JI was now a splintered group which may not be capable of replicating mass casualty attacks, but warned there was evidence that JI members released from prison “are gravitating towards hardline groups who continue to advocate al Qaeda-style attacks against Western targets”.

“These hardline groups continue to believe that the use of violence against the “enemies of Islam” is justified under any circumstances,” said the report.

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Man United cancel Jakarta game after bombings

tn_2009-07-17T073636Z_01_ZAH02A_RTRIDSP_2_SOCCER-UNITED-INDONESIA-EXPLOSIONS

Man United cancel Jakarta game after bombings

KUALA LUMPUR,  – July 17  – Manchester United have cancelled the Jakarta leg of their Asia tour after the hotel where they were due to stay in the Indonesian capital was bombed on Friday.

The English champions were scheduled to play against an Indonesia ‘All Star’ team on Monday on the second leg of their pre-season tour, which also included stops in Malaysia, South Korea and China.

The team cancelled the Indonesia trip, however, after bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta’s business district, killing nine people and wounding dozens.

“It’s a bit of a shock for all of us. We just got news of this when we landed,” club manager Alex Ferguson told a news conference on the team’s arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

“There was no other solution as we had to safeguard our players. So it’s the correct decision.”

Witnesses said the bombings at the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton, where the team were due to stay, were minutes apart and it appeared both had occurred inside the hotels, judging from the way windows were blown out.

At the Ritz-Carlton, torn curtains flapped around broken windows and glass lay around the hotel. There was blood on the street across from the Marriott. The hotels are near each other in a business area home to many offices, embassies and bars.

‘HERE TO PLAY’

Club captain Gary Neville said the team had been looking forward to playing in front of their fans in Jakarta but that there was nothing he could do about the decision to cancel.

“Obviously the players are disappointed not to be going to Indonesia,” said Neville. “However, the decision is out of my control as I’m just here to play football.”

United will kick off their tour in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysia XI on Saturday and are scheduled to face South Korea’s FC Seoul on July 24 before taking on Chinese outfit Hangzhou Greentown two days later.

All 73,000 tickets for United’s game in Indonesia sold out three weeks in advance, according to the club website (www.manutd.com), and it would have been the first time they had visited the South-East Asian country since 1975.

“Following the explosions in Jakarta — one of which was at the hotel the team were due to stay in — and based on advice received, the directors have informed the Indonesian FA that the club cannot fulfil the fixture in Jakarta on the 2009 Asia tour,” read a club statement.

“We are working on a revised itinerary outside Indonesia with the promoters, and will make a further announcement when these decisions have been made.

“We are deeply disappointed at not being able to visit Indonesia and thank the Indonesian FA and our fans for their support. Our thoughts go to all those affected by the blasts.”

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