Attacks force Manchester United to call off Indonesian trip
Manchester United have been forced to cancel a trip to Indonesia to “safeguard” the team after terrorists targeted the hotel players were to stay in.
At least nine people were killed and 50 injured in the attacks on two luxury hotels in Jakarta.
The explosions blew out windows and scattered debris and glass across the streets.
Disappointed fans were last night cancelling flights and hotel bookings.
South Jakarta police colonel Firman Bundi said four of the dead were foreigners but the Foreign Office said it had no indication of any British casualties.
One of the attacks was on the Ritz-Carlton where United were due to stay for four nights.
The majority of fans who travelled from the UK to follow the team will still be in Kuala Lumpur, according to Ralph Mortimer, secretary of the Greater London branch of the supporters’ club.
“A group of about 20 went from here and they were planning to go to Jakarta on Sunday ready for Monday’s match and spend three days there,” he said.
“There were a few thousand fans going out there from the UK. I suppose they’ll be cancelling their flights and rearranging their accommodation now.”
Tony Burlton (50), from central London, is in Kuala Lumpur with his wife and two friends.
“We’ve just rung up to cancel our flights. From what we’ve heard they are trying to arrange another game to replace the one in Jakarta, we don’t know where it will be but it would be great if it was here,” he said.
“I’d say that any UK fans who were planning to watch the Jakarta match will still be in Kuala Lumpur. The people we met last night in the bar were all flying out with us on Sunday.
“The general feeling here is that the team weren’t being targeted. If they actually did attack the team it would have caused huge resentment among people in this part of the world. They have a lot of Muslim supporters.”
One guest at the Ritz Carlton said the first he knew of the attack was when he received a phone call from some colleagues telling him to get out of the hotel.
Geoffrey Head told BBC News: “Then I noticed the TV wasn’t working. So I looked out of the window… I could see down to ground level and I saw there was a lot of broken glass. So I thought it was time to actually get out. There was no evacuation warning or anything.
“I guess the surreal thing was going down in the elevator and walking through the lobby and looking across to my left and noticing the actual cafe was completely blown out.”
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said it was “very disappointing” the club had to cancel the game against an Indonesia Super League XI on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Sir Alex said: “We got the news as we landed and it is very disappointing. I have never been to Indonesia before and I know the Indonesian FA have worked very hard on this.
“It is terrible news but we have taken what I believe to be the right decision in terms of safeguarding our players.”
United’s chief executive David Gill said they met with officials from the British High Commission before deciding to cancel their trip.
Mr Gill was asked if advice about potential trouble was given to the club prior to the start of the pre-season trip to the Far East.
“We were aware of the situation but we spoke to the right people and received the correct advice,” he said.
Although there have been no terrorist problems in the country for a number of years and presidential elections passed off peacefully recently, the other hotel that was attacked, the Marriott, was badly damaged by a car bomb attack in 2003 that killed 12 people.
That coincided with a period when Islamic militants from the Jemaah Islamiyah organisation were blamed for numerous attacks, including bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.
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