I just got this email from Jakarta from the friend I visited the Ritz with. It seems there are two Ritz hotels in Jakarta, and the one I describe in this post is not the one that was bombed.
Thank you for your concern. There are two Ritz, and the one with the bomb was the one in business district, located less than 10 km from the Ritz we went to.
I have been wondering myself on how they do it. The security in this Ritz is even tighter than the one we went which is adjacent to shopping mall.
They planted one in Airlangga Restaurant, at Ritz, and in the basement in Mariott which is located across from each other.
Manchester United is planned to stay there during their big game in Jakarta starting today. Don't know if this is the reason why Ritz is chosen for such an evil act like the bomb.
UPDATE 2: CNN is now interviewing a Brit named Greg who heard the bombs go off at the Ritz. Greg, who says he lived in the Ritz for 12 months, echoes my point about hotel security.
"The Ritz has got to be the most secure hotel anywhere in Indonesia and I have no idea how they could have done it," Greg told Anderson Cooper.
Greg then listed the various security measures.
Greg says the first bomb went off in a nearby apartment area. A second bomb in the area apparently went off in the restaurant of the Ritz. I wonder if when they say "restaurant" they mean the bar that overlooks the front of the hotel -- which is very big.
Greg got some photos on his i-phone and Cooper says they will be posted at i-report. Coopers added that Greg "got a good deal on his photos." I should hope so. CNN, which apparently has no correspondents in Indonesia, ought to be paying for the photos.
UPDATE 1: Also, elsewhere in the city a car apparently exploded (May have happened near muara angke fish market).
According to a CNN breaking news report, the Ritz hotel was bombed "from the inside." Meaning that it was not hit by a vehicle bomb, but by something planted inside the building. If this is confirmed, it would not surprise me.
The Ritz hotel is part of an opulent new shopping complex in Jakarta called Pacific Place. . . . The Ritz-Carleton -- and to a great extent the entire complex -- was very much isolated from the stream of Jakarta traffic. The complex looks like a skyscraper built on an urban island. What struck me about the entire complex was the extreme security measures. The control of traffic and people around the site -- unusual for Jakarta -- was most evident to any visitor. Vehicles were not allowed anywhere near the hotel building's main entrance without first passing through a tunnel-like security structure situated away from the complex. On the ground level where taxis pick you up, there is only a reception desk. No bar or cafe. The bar is one or two floors above. If you want to get from Pacific Place to the Ritz, you must walk through a windy passageway and then take an elevator. As far as I could tell, that was the main public pedestrian access to the hotel. If you arrive at the Ritz this way by foot, you are greeted outside a hotel entrance by a security post where you have to have your bag x-rayed.
Any hotel bombing is disturbing, but this one particularly so due to all the attention the hotel designers appear to have given the question of security.
Note: In July 2008 Indonesian police captured some terror suspects allegedly connected with Jemaah Islamiah along with bomb-making materials. They had planned to bomb Jakarta.