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Al-Qaeda Link Is Suspected in Jakarta Bombings
The Ritz-Carlton and the Marriott, located within about 100 yards of each other, were each about two-thirds full at the time of the bombing, and both were secured with armed guards and reinforced barriers, Marriott spokeswoman Laurie Goldstein said.
Goldstein said it was unclear whether any hotel employees were injured or killed in the blast. Both hotels sustained damage, but it did not appear to be structural, she said.
In Washington, Obama said Americans "stand by the Indonesian people in this difficult time, and the U.S. government stands ready to help the Indonesian government respond to and recover from these outrageous attacks as a friend and partner."
Indonesia has experienced four major terrorist attacks this decade: bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005; the August 2003 bombing of the Marriott in Jakarta; and a September 2004 bombing outside the Australian Embassy.
Authorities have blamed those attacks on Jemaah Islamiah, a radical group founded in 1993 with the aim of establishing an Islamist caliphate in Southeast Asia and purging Indonesia of its moderate and tolerant religious tendencies. The group is widely considered the likeliest suspect in the latest bombings.
"They are the only ones in the country with the capability and will to pull off something like this," said Zachary Abuza, a political science professor at Simmons College in Boston. The relatively small blasts may reflect the weakened state of the terrorist group, Abuza said, adding, "I think the objective here was to show to their rank and file that they have not been defeated."
Staff writers Joby Warrick, Ylan Q. Mui, Rajiv Chandrasekaran and William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.