5 August 2003

The Jakarta Post | Jakarta blast might have been directed against U.S. interests: VP:
JAKARTA (AFP): The bombers of the five-star hotel in Indonesia might have aimed at destroying U.S. interests here, Vice President Hamzah Haz said Tuesday.

'Marriott is American. Whether this (blast) is aimed at destroying US interests, I think there may have been such an aim,' Haz told journalists before attending a cabinet meeting.

JW Marriott is a U.S. hotel chain and the hotel has in the past hosted many major U.S. functions, including this year's July 4th celebration.

Haz did not elaborate but he quickly warned that it was much too early to make any conclusion.

'Let us allow the investigators to act first,' he said, adding that he hoped the police will quickly find a lead and prevent further attacks.'

The current estimate, which is rising bulletin by bulletin, stands at 14 dead and over 150 injured. Eyewitnesses describe 4 blasts. A senior police general has said it was a suicide bomber using a Kijang car.

The admirable Chao Phraya River Rat blogs:

Investors have been aware of the risks in Indonesia for many years, but like Bali, the sheer magnitude and targeting of the blast may shock many. Various reports at present are estimating up to double figures in deaths and over 100 in injuries. This incident is the first to target a high profile public facility in Jakarta with such violence, despite various smaller bombings and incidents over several years in government buildings, the airport and shopping centers.

This time however, the target moved closer to home, attracting comparisons with September 11 and the focus on symbols of Western business, influence, and wealth. It bears the mark of Al Quaeda, so no doubt the sister Jemaah Islamiyah group is the most obvious suspect.

The incident comes at a time when the Indonesian economy has been showing strong improvement and the government is being praised for their own war against terrorism since the Bali terrorist attack.

Most are assuming the act is terrorist related. The signs are just so obvious. But whether it is the work of Jemaah Islamiyah [JI], Aceh separatists, or of any of the other destabilizing groups working in Indonesia remains an open question. It also came on a day when the Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and East Timorese trials of military generals were taking place and prior to some preliminary verdicts being handed down in the Bali trials.

Whatever the cause, the incident is an untimely reminder of the widespread discontent and the ongoing and pervasive security situation in Indonesia.

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