Nine people have been killed and more than 40 others injured in almost simultaneous early morning bomb blast at two Jakarta luxury hotels.
The Ritz-Carlton and the nearby JW Marriott hotels in South Jakarta were rocked by separate blasts shortly before 8am, sending acrid plumes of black smoke spiralling out of the two buildings, shattering windows, and extensively damaging portions of both buildings.
It is believed the bombs exploded in the foyer cafe of the Marriott and in the first floor Airlangga all-day restaurant of the Ritz Carlton
There were several breakfast meetings underway at the time of the blasts with those killed and injured reported to be mostly foreigners. At least three Dutch nationals and one Australian have been confirmed among the list of those killed.
Debris and shattered glass littered the streets outside the neighbouring hotels in the upscale Jakarta neighbourhood as ambulances and first responders raced to the scene.
A presidential spokesman, Dino Patti Djalal, described the blasts as “a coordinated attack” and said that most of the fatalities — at least nine — resulted from the Marriott blast.
Australia’s ABC reported that security experts had warned just hours before today’s fatal hotel bombings that young members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist organisation remained defiant and were intent on bombing Western targets.
The latest blasts follows the release from prison of several convicted Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists and a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) that their release posed a serious threat of further terrorist attacks.
Members of JI were behind the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings which killed 225 people, including 92 Australians.
It is the second bombing attack on the JW Marriott hotel. In the previous attack in 2003, 12 people were killed.
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He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
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