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Ritz and JW Marriott to reopen

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Ritz, Marriott Open in Jakarta 12 Days After Attacks (Update2) 

 

By Achmad Sukarsono

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- The Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott hotels in Jakarta opened amid “heightened” security, 12 days after suicide attacks killed nine people including the bombers.

The hotels, situated opposite each other in Jakarta’s upscale Kuningan area, resumed services at 10 a.m. local time today, Marriott International Inc., which manages both properties, said in a statement.

The biggest U.S. hotel chain said security had been “heightened even further as a precaution,” to reassure guests after Indonesia’s first terrorist attack in four years. The government plans to spend 94 billion rupiah ($9.4 million) this year to help the nation’s tourism industry, Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said on July 22.

“Occupancy has been encouraging and we are heartened by the support of our customers,” Els Ramadhinta, a spokeswoman at the Ritz Carlton, said in response to an e-mail today. A restaurant at the Ritz Carlton and a function room at the Marriott were hit in the attacks.

Cars entering the Marriott today were being checked by at least 10 security officers. Police dogs were present and visitors were being checked from neck to toe as a group calling itself al-Qaeda Indonesia claimed responsibility for the hotel attacks in an Internet blog.

‘Food Is Great’

About 20 Indonesians were eating lunch at the Sailendra restaurant at the Marriott today. Ina Ilmiaviattam, a spokeswoman for the hotel, declined to say whether Western guests had checked in.

“Life is short; I don’t want to be held back by this incident,” said Frederick Moeis, an Indonesian designer who was having lunch at the restaurant. “The food is great at Sailendra.”

The hotel will resume hosting wedding receptions in a “week or two,” Ina said while showing reporters around.

Indonesian police are focusing their investigation on the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah because the explosives and methods used in the attacks match previous bombings blamed on the al-Qaeda-linked group. Authorities have yet to identify the two men who blew themselves up in the attacks and have circulated sketches of the perpetrators.

The blog entry claiming responsibility for the bombings said the Marriott attack targeted American businessmen who were meeting there, while the Ritz Carlton bombing was aimed at canceling the arrival of the Manchester United Football Club players who were booked to stay in that hotel. The British soccer team scrapped its first visit to Indonesia after the bombings.

The message dated July 26 was signed by one Nur Din bin Muhammad Top. Police won’t be “sidetracked,” by such claims, Sulistyo Ishaq, deputy national police spokesman said today.

Indonesian police said Noordin Mohammad Top, a former Jemaah Islamiyah member, may have been involved in last week’s attack.

‘Well-Trained’ Terrorists

The people who planned the bombings were “well-trained, well-organized,” and their plans were “well-executed,” Dudon Satyaputra, former chief of the Indonesian police’s forensics department, said in an interview on July 27.

Police found and defused a bomb in room 1808 of the Marriott, which was timed to detonate before the device that blew up at the lobby level of the hotel, I Ketung Untung Yoga Ana, a national police spokesman, said on July 23.

The bombers were challenged by employees of the hotels minutes before detonating their devices, Alan Orlob, Marriott International’s head of global security, said on July 20.

The JW Marriott bomber exited an elevator wearing a backpack on his chest and pulling a luggage trolley and told guards he was delivering a case to his boss attending a chief executives meeting that was taking place in the function room, Orlob said. The Ritz Carlton attacker told restaurant workers he was a resident in room 2701 of the hotel, which has only 26 floors, as he sat down to order breakfast, Orlob said.

PT Holcim Indonesia President Timothy David Mackay, a New Zealand citizen, was among the people killed. Others killed included three Australians, two Dutch and one Indonesian.

To contact the reporter on this story: Achmad Sukarsono in Jakartaasukarsono@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: July 29, 2009 07:5

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