SLUG: 2-306177 Indonesia / Blast /
TITLE=INDONESIA BLAST (L)
BYLINE=KATE POUND DAWSON
INTRO: A suspected bomb has blown through a luxury hotel in the Indonesian capital. Police say at least five people have been killed and some 20 injured. As Kate Pound Dawson reports from our Asia News Center in Hong Kong, the blast comes as judges prepare to issue a verdict in the first trial of last year's devastating Bali terrorist bombing.
TEXT: The blast tore through lower floors of the high-rise Marriott hotel in central Jakarta early Tuesday afternoon.
Witnesses say they saw bodies lying outside the hotel and burned cars in front of it. There were reports of other smaller blasts, but those could not be confirmed.
The explosion set off fires in the building, and heavily damaged a restaurant on the ground floor. Neighboring buildings also were damaged.
The explosion comes two days before a verdict is expected in the first trial of a suspect in last year's Bali bombing. That attack, which killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists, is thought to have been the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional Islamic terror group.
Since the Bali explosions last October, many Western governments have warned their citizens to avoid Indonesia, for fear of further attacks by extremists.
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri used her annual state of the nation address Friday to condemn terror groups in the country and warn of possible future attacks.
/// MEGAWATI ACT IN INDONESIAN, EST, FADE ///
She says the Bali plot shows that Indonesia has become a home to international terrorists.
Some suspects in the Bali case have testified they wanted to kill foreigners. The Jakarta Marriott is a popular hotel for foreign business people and tourists. It sits in a key business district, not far from the Jakarta stock exchange.
Indonesia was just beginning to recover from the Bali attack, which sent the country's lucrative tourism industry into near collapse. Investors on Tuesday reacted to the Marriott bombing by quickly selling off Indonesian shares. (signed)
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