Australia, US lead world outcry at Jakarta bombings

SYDNEY, July 17, 2009 (AFP) - Australia and the United States led international condemnation of Friday's deadly bombings at two upmarket hotels in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, which killed at least nine people.

High-explosive bombs tore through the Ritz-Carlton and the nearby JW Marriott in downtown Jakarta at breakfast time, also injuring more than 40 people in the country's bloodiest attacks since 2005.

Indonesian policemen examine the Ritz Carlton hotel in Jakarta on July 17, 2009 after the bomb blasts (AFP photo)

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 neighbours.

"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."

Canberra lifted its threat alert level for Indonesia, urging citizens to reconsider their need to travel in the wake of the explosions.

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.

The European Union also condemned what it called "brutal acts", conveying its condolences to the victims' families, in a statement issued by the bloc's Swedish presidency in Jakarta.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key, who confirmed that a local man was among the dead, said: "Everything I have seen suggests that this is a deliberate attack designed to kill and wound innocent people."

New Zealand embassy staff in Jakarta were contacting the 281 other nationals registered with the foreign ministry as being in Jakarta.

Condemnation poured in from Indonesia's partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippines, hit by a series of deadly bomb blasts earlier this month, said it was "saddened" by the attack and vowed that Manila and Jakarta would "work together" against terrorism.

"We are saddened by this news. It’s the second time the Marriott has been attacked," President Gloria Arroyo's spokesman Gary Olivar said.

"The loss of life is something to be deplored. It is probably another reminder to us that the peace and order is a continuing issue."

Singapore's foreign ministry said: "These attacks serve as a stark reminder of the threat that terrorism continues to pose to all countries."

In Thailand, the foreign ministry expressed "regret" over the attacks and condemned "those who masterminded the attacks that have caused the loss of innocent lives".

"The Thai embassy has warned all Thai nationals in Indonesia to be vigilant, especially in crowded places," it said in a statement.

English football club Manchester United were due to stay at the Ritz-Carlton next week as part of an Asian tour but the club cancelled its Indonesian visit following the bombings.

"We are shocked," team boss Sir Alex Ferguson told a press conference.

"We just got the news as we landed here and we are terribly disappointed because we've never been to Indonesia before."

Source: AFP

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