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Seven foreigners were killed in Jakarta hotel bombs – media

in.reuters.com

Seven foreigners were killed in Jakarta hotel bombs – media

JAKARTA – july 18  – Seven foreigners were among those killed in the bomb attacks on two luxury hotels in Indonesia’s capital, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Saturday, citing a police official.

Suicide bombers struck the JW Marriott hotel and close-by Ritz-Carlton, two luxury hotels popular with businessmen and diplomats, in Jakarta’s main business district during breakfast.

Police on Friday said eight people died, revising down an earlier count of nine, and over 60 were injured. On Saturday it seemed the toll had been raised again to nine, including two suicide bombers.

The blasts are a severe blow for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who was re-elected earlier this month in a landslide victory on the back of restoring peace and strong growth to a country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

Police won’t be drawn on who may be responsible for the blasts, but suspicion has fallen on remnants of Jemaah Islamiah, the militant Islamist group responsible for a string of attacks in Indonesia in the first half of the decade.

East Jakarta Police Chief Hasanudin told the English language Jakarta Post that forensic experts were identifying the bodies of seven foreign nationals.

“All were foreigners,” Hasanudin told the Post, adding that all were male.

Police have not released the names of any of the victims yet.

Tim Mackay, chief executive of cement maker Holcim Indonesia and a New Zealand national, was one of several executives attending a CastleAsia Group breakfast at one of the hotels, and was killed in the blast, Holcim said on Friday.

Kompas newspaper reported that two Australians died in the blasts.

Police said on Friday the bombers had checked in to the Marriott as paying guests on Wednesday and had assembled the bombs in their room. A third bomb was found and defused in a laptop computer bag on the 18th floor.

International reaction to the bombings was swift.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who spent four years living in Jakarta as a child after his mother married an Indonesian, called the attacks “outrageous”.

“These attacks make it clear that extremists remain committed to murdering innocent men, women and children of any faith in all countries,” the White House said in a statement.

Jemaah Islamiah or a splinter, blamed for a previous Marriott attack as well as bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, are widely suspected to be responsible for Friday’s blasts as the attacks bear the group’s hallmarks — the choice of high-profile Western targets where the victims are likely to be foreigners.

The group, which wants to create an Islamic super-state across parts of Southeast Asia, was blamed for a string of attacks until 2005, but many militants have since been arrested.

According to police, the casualties included citizens of Indonesia, the United States, Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Canada, Norway, Japan and India.

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