Indonesia sends message of defiance to bombers
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Last Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2009, 13:31
  
Jakarta: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent a message of defiance on Thursday to the perpetrators of last week's deadly suicide attacks in Jakarta, saying the country would not be cowed by terror.

The President said the mainly Muslim archipelago must remain vigilant against further attacks after suicide bombers killed seven people at the adjacent JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels last Friday.

"I'm sure we will find these perpetrators of terror. We'll also recover the national situation," he told reporters at Jakarta's international airport, referring to four years of growth and stability since the last major attack.

"As a nation we cannot be defeated by terrorism."

Three Australians, an Indonesian and a New Zealander have been confirmed killed in the blasts, which also injured 53 people. Two Dutch tourists are also believed to have been killed, as well as the two suicide bombers.

Police have not publicly named any suspects, but senior counter-terrorism officials have said the attacks are the suspected work of Islamist fanatics linked to the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Digital sketches of two men believed to be the bombers were released Wednesday. Both were Asians with short hair and one, the Marriott bomber who killed five people, was aged just 16 to 17 years, police said.

Police deputy spokesman Sulistyo Ishak said police were searching for two Indonesian men, Nur Hasbi and Ibrahim, who might be able to provide information on the attacks.

Hasbi, otherwise known as Nur Said, is a known disciple of JI splinter group leader Noordin Mohammed Top, while Ibrahim is believed to have worked at a florist at one of the hotels and has been missing since Friday.

Police have also detained a woman believed to be the third wife of Malaysian-born Noordin, the alleged mastermind of a string of deadly blasts in Indonesia including the 2003 truck bombing of the Marriott.

Police took samples from relatives of Nur Hasbi and Ibrahim on Monday which ruled them out as either of the unidentified bombers, but Ishak said they were still people of interest.

"Although DNA tests showed that Nur Hasbi and Ibrahim were not the suspected suicide bombers, we're still looking for them," he said.

"We want to know where they are, their roles or links to the perpetrators."

Investigators have said the Marriott bomber checked into Room 1808 of the luxury hotel two days before the attacks, disguised as a guest and bearing false identification.

Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, quoting "well-placed sources", reported Thursday that the Ritz-Carlton bomber, aged 20 to 40 years according to police, received help from Ibrahim to enter the hotel via a staff door.

He blew himself up in the cafe killing two people, minutes after the Marriott attack.

JI analyst Noor Huda Ismail said Nur Hasbi had been a person of interest to police since 2006.

"Most of the speculation, most of the reports I have obtained was that he went with Top everywhere, he was Top's right-hand man," he said.

Yudhoyono said security had to be tightened across the mainly Muslim country of 234 million people, which has been hit by dozens of terror bombings over the past decade including the 2002 Bali attack that killed 202 people.

"Everybody has to be screened thoroughly. Even when I travel... my bag is being checked as well," he said.

In an address to the nation on the night of the bombings, Yudhyoyono was criticised for apparently linking the blasts to domestic politics and his election rivals.

He made no comment on Thursday about whom he believed was behind the latest bombings.

Bureau Report


First Published: Thursday, July 23, 2009, 13:31


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