A Malaysian extremist wanted for a string of terror attacks was named yesterday as the likely culprit behind suicide bombings at luxury hotels in Indonesia that left eight dead and 55 injured.
Police were studying explosives found in the suspects’ “control center” in room 1808 of the Marriott hotel, which was bombed along with its nearby sister hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, on Friday during the busy breakfast period.
DNA evidence, including a severed head from the remains of two suicide bombers, was also being examined as security was tightened across Indonesia and the Philippines amid warnings of follow-up attacks.
Five foreigners — three Australians, a New Zealander and a Singaporean — were identified among the dead. Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda put the total toll at eight, including the bombers.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the security ministry’s anti-terror desk chief, Ansyaad Mbai, told reporters there was evidence pointing to Malaysian-born extremist Noordin Mohammed Top.
“There are strong indications that Noordin Top’s group is behind the attacks because the bombs were hand-made and the tactic was suicide bombings,” he said.
It is the fourth attack in Indonesia allegedly masterminded by Noordin.
Investigators said they found an unexploded bomb and bomb-making materials in room 1808 of the Marriott, which they believe was the attackers’ operations center.
They said the bombers stayed in the room for two nights before the attacks and disguised themselves as guests when they walked into crowded dining and meeting areas and detonated their suitcase devices.
The bombs — brought fully assembled into the hotels despite airport-style security measures — were packed with nails, ballbearings, nuts and bolts to maximize the carnage.
Police said they were “identical” to ones previously used in Jemaat Islamiya attacks, and were also the same as bombs found in a raid last week on an Islamic boarding school in Central Java, carried out as part of the hunt for Noordin.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was re-elected in a landslide on July 8, said the attack was an act of terror that would have “wide effects on our economy, trade, tourism and image in the eyes of the world.”