Bombs have exploded at two five-star hotels in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, reportedly the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.
The first explosion happened at the Ritz Carlton at 7:50 am, a second explosion at the Marriott was reported 15 minutes later at 8:05 am.
The facade of the Ritz-Carlton hotel was blown off in one blast on Friday morning and another explosion hit the Marriott hotel, police in Jakarta said.
An eyewitness told eTN the damage to both hotels seemed to be small, as the bombs used in the blasts appeared to be smaller bomb.
Hotel security at the Ritz Carlton has a reputation for supposed being one of the toughest in Jakarta. Hotel officials are unsure how anyone could have brought a bomb into the building.
“At approximately 7:48 a.m. local time, explosions occurred at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia. Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims and their families of this tragic incident. Police responded immediately and sealed off the area,” said Marriott in an official release after the incident.
The popular hotel brand added: “Guests at both hotels have been evacuated. The guests have been moved to a secure location. We are monitoring the situation and are working closely with the authorities. As always, the safety and security of our guests and associates is a high priority.”
Other witnesses in the hotel felt the explosion and saw heavy smoke coming from the ballroom and breakfast restaurant. One eye-witness report stated the alleged suicide bomber was carried out dead from the Ritz Carlton restaurant.
An eTN eyewitness said security at the Marriott was the same as in every hotel in Jakarta. A car could not drive up to the lobby at the hotel. All bags are searched before anyone can enter the hotel.
The head of the Health Ministry crisis center, Rustam Pakaya, said at least one New Zealander was among the injured. eTN received reports stating foreigners are among the dead.
A Indonesian security ministry spokesperson reported more than 50 were injured and 9 are dead. This number has not been officially confirmed.
Another shocked witness reported seeing injured bodies inside the Marriot. A Marriott representative told eTurboNews that both hotels were evacuated and guests were taken to a secure location.
Guests are outside the hotel with no place to go, and all their belongings in the hotel, CNN reported.
Debris and shattered glass littered the street outside the neighboring hotels in an upscale Jakarta neighborhood, and ambulances raced to the scene.
Reporter Justin Hale told Radio 3AW that Indonesian police had confirmed they were treating the synchronized bombings as a terrorist attack.
The blast comes after a warning from security experts this week that Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiah, which has been dormant following a crackdown resulting in the arrest and execution of some members, could be set to strike again.
Terrorists could use the anniversary of the execution of three Bali bombing perpetrators on November 9 as a “sacred date” to attract new support and fresh recruits, a study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said.
Experts believe that Muslims would not occupy a public place like a restaurant on a Friday morning. The bomb going off on a Friday morning in a restaurant may be a sign the attack was to be directed towards non-Muslims.
The bombing at the JW Marriott hotel, one of two luxury hotels bombed Friday, was allegedly the work of a suicide bomber, according to a police bomb squad (Gegana). “We uncovered a dead body whose head, hands and feet were found separately,” Aristama, a Gegana officer told The Jakarta Post.
According to him, the dead body was allegedly the person who carried the bomb into the hotel.
Gegana also found a burnt and destroyed bag that allegedly carrying the bomb, he said. “The destroyed bag has been brought to our forensic lab for further investigation,” he said.
Aristama said that Gegana had also found three other unclothed dead bodies, two men and one woman. “I also found that the metal detector at the Marriott hotel was not functioning,” he said.
The Marriott Hotel was attacked in 2003 when 12 died. Jemaah Islamiah was blamed in that blast.
The US embassy in Jakarta did not have any information about Americans killed or injure, while the Australian embassy established a hotline. CNN reported that two US hotel workers were treated for injuries.
Marriott established a crisis phone number For guest information, please contact the Marriott Family Assistance Hotline at +1-402-390-3265 or in the US call toll-free 866-211-4610
The Marriott group also owns the Ritz Carlton brand.
eTN readers claim that the area is under heavy police protection. There are rumors about a possible third attack. Several businesses in the surrounding area closed early out of fear of another bomb blast.
Comments received by eTN readers:
At the present moment it has not been confirmed whether the explosions that occurred this morning at around 7:55 am at both the Marriott and the Ritz Carlton Hotels in Jakarta are bombs or caused by other accidental explosions. Investigations are still ongoing. -Tuti Sunario, editor, Indonesia Digest
Please be advised that we are sure that the perpetrators will be caught and all Indonesian people will again, be focused on ridding themselves of these misguided people! -Robin Engel, SongLine Yachts & Cruises of Indonesia
eTN readers in Jakarta with information are asked to send information, including photos and YouTube video links, to email@example.com.