World powers condemn Jakarta hotel bombings | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 17.07.2009
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World powers condemn Jakarta hotel bombings

The European Union and United States led the international condemnation of the bomb attacks which ripped through two luxury hotels in the heart of Indonesia's capital on Friday, killing at least nine and wounding dozens.

Security guards stand outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel after the explosion

Islamist terrorists are suspected of hitting both hotels

"The presidency of the EU condemns today's bomb attacks in Jakarta that have killed and injured so many innocent people," the Swedish government, current holder of the European Union's presidency, said in a statement.

"The EU conveys its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims of these brutal acts. We stand in sympathy and in solidarity with the Indonesian government and the Indonesian people in this most difficult time," the statement added.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, en route to Asia for talks in India and Thailand, condemned what she called the "senseless" attacks, underlining that the threat of terrorism remains "very real".

"We condemn these senseless acts of violence and stand ready to provide assistance if the Indonesian government requests us to do so," she said. "The attacks reflect the viciousness of violent extremists, and remind us that the threat of terrorism remains very real," Clinton said.

In Paris, the French government said it condemned the double attack "in the strongest terms" and offered the victims' families and the Indonesian government its support and solidarity.

"France stands by the side of Indonesia, a major partner for our country in Asia, in its courageous fight against terrorism," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

France "offers its full support to the determined efforts of the Indonesian authorities to promote the stability of this great democracy," it said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the blasts, in which at least two of his countrymen were wounded, made him "sick to the stomach".

"Any attack anywhere is an attack on us all," Rudd told reporters. "Any terrorist attack on our friends Indonesia is an attack on our neighbors. Any terrorist attack is an act of cowardice. It is an act of murder. It is a barbaric act that violates the fundamental principles of human decency."

International casualties in suspected Islamist attacks

An injured hotel employee receives medical treatment outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel

Indonesian and foreign guests were injured in the blasts

The apparently coordinated bombings, which targeted the JW Marriott hotel, scene of a car bomb attack in 2003, and the Ritz-Carlton, both popular with visiting international businessmen and thought to boast some of the tightest security in Jakarta, are the first in several years and follow a period in which the Indonesian government had made progress in tackling security threats from militant Islamist groups.

Witnesses said the bombings were minutes apart and it appeared that both had occurred inside the hotel restaurants during breakfast. Intial reports suggest the bomber at the Marriot was disguised as a guest.

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

Although there had been no claim of responsibility, security officials privately suspect that the attacks were the work of the Jemaah Islamiah militant group, blamed for the previous Marriott attack as well as the bombings on the island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.

The group, which wants to create an Islamic state across parts of Southeast Asia, was blamed for a string of attacks that occurred up until 2005, but many militants have since been arrested. An Australian security report, published as recently as the day before the attacks, warned that Jemaah Islamiah could be poised to strike again.

Indonesia shaken by new attacks

Police officers inspect the damage after an explosion went off at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world

A visibly upset President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, re-elected this month on the back of improved security and a healthier economy, told a news conference that the bombings were the act of a terrorist group bent on damaging the country.

"I am sure most of us are deeply concerned, feel very sorry, and are crying silently, like the way I am feeling," he said, adding the perpetrators were "laughing and cheering with anger and hatred".

"They do not have a sense of humanity and do not care about the destruction of our country because of this terror act will have a wide impact on our economy, our business climate, our tourism, our image in the world and many others."

Parliamentary elections in April and the presidential poll this month had passed peacefully, underscoring the progress made by the world's most populous Muslim nation since the chaos and violence that surrounded the downfall of former dictator Suharto in the late 1990s.

But analysts believe these attacks will shake that new confidence, with Indonesian financial markets wobbling and the rupiah currency dropping in the wake of the bombings.

nda/AFP/ap/dpa/Reuters

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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