Hours after the police announced at 1500 hours, on Thursday, January 14, that all terrorists involved in the Jakarta terror attack on Jalan Thamrin yesterday had been “incapacitated,” Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, informed the press that after checking with airlines and hotels, especially near and on the Thamrin-Sudirman boulevard, all had reported that no panic cancelations nor check-outs had been made by guests nor were there cancelations on forward booking, thus ensuring minimum impact on the flow of tourism to Indonesia.
Arief Yahya is the current Minister of Tourism of Indonesia from October 27, 2014 in the Working Cabinet of President Joko Widodo.
The hotels interviewed and checked were those nearest to the terror attack site, including the Sari Pacific, Pullman, Mandarin Oriental, Hyatt Regency, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, Grand Sahid Jaya, Ibis Tamarin, Fave Hotel, Art Hotel, Akman Hotel, Oria Hotel, Hotel Cemara, Hotel Kasenda, Morrisey Hotel and Amaris hotel. “They all trust that the incident on Thamrin is concluded and has not affected (tourist arrivals),” said Minister Yahya.
This was confirmed by GM of Sari Pan Pacific Hotel, nearest hotel to the Sarinah attack site, who stated that no guests had complained nor any had checked out in panic. We are very glad that the Police had immediately sent out sniffer dogs so that we really feel very secure, said Herry Lukman, GM of the hotel.
Elsewhere, in Bali, GM of Radana Hotel Kuta, Reineer Dauly reported that : “I have monitored the situation in Bali minute by minute – also with those in the Indonesian Hotel Association – and there has not been any cancellation whatsoever. Bali is perfectly safe and has not been affected by the 5 hours incident in Jakarta”. A similar statement was also made by Robert Kelsell, Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association, BHA. “Bali is ok. No cancellations, all is peaceful and as normal”.
Similar reports were received from Yogyakarta, another favorite destination on Java island. “Everyone knows that the attack in Jakarta was centered around one location only, namely on Jalan Thamrin. In Batam, GM of Batam View Hotel assured that all was ok on Batam, nearest resort island to Singapore which happened to be filled with tourists from Korea and Singapore.
On Thursday, 14 January, at 10.15 am a number of terrorists attacked the Starbucks café in the Sarinah Building on Jalan Thamrin, Jakarta’s main avenue, part of the long Thamrin-Sudirman avenue that leads directly from the southern suburbs of Kebayoran to the National Monument and the Presidential Palace. This avenue is lined with highrise buildings occupied by banks, hotels, malls, large corporations, and foreign embassies, including the UN Representative and the Japanese embassy. Thamrin is the older part where the first skyscrapers were built, and the Sarinah building being one of these.
The first explosion was heard coming from the Sarinah building. At this point people working in the surrounding buildings began to shoot videos and recorded what further occurred, that was aired almost immediately through TV Breaking News. They showed 2 terrorists near Starbucks attempting to throw grenades; but the bombs they carried suddenly blew up, instantly killing both.
Within minutes Police had arrived fully equipped at the scene. When all attention was focused on Sarinah, no one noticed that a man had appeared from among the panicked crowd who started shooting on the traffic police stationed at the post, who were there to regulate this busy crossing. The man also randomly shot at the crowd wounding a number of people. Meantime other attackers had entered the neighboring Jakarta Theater building who were immediately chased after by the police.
At around 15.00 hrs. Jakarta time the Chief of Police assured the public that all terrorists had been killed and “incapacitated”. One was shot dead in the Starbucks café, and four died by their own bombs, (whether accidentally or on purpose). Seven persons in all were reported dead, including the five terrorists, one Indonesian and one Canadian, with 19 wounded, some seriously, among whom 1 Dutch national and 1 Algerian. The terrorists had used bombs, rifles and grenades and had aimed at the Starbucks café – symbol of American connection – , the Police, and had used the best location to catch world attention, said the Police. The siege was over.
At 17.00 hrs the Thamrin road was again opened to Jakarta’s usual peak evening traffic.
The Stock Market had faltered during the hours of the siege, but soon recovered following the swift actions of the Police and other Indonesian security personnel, concluding the crisis. In its Breaking News broadcast, BBC appreciated the swift action and short time taken with which the Indonesian Police had resolved this sudden crisis that took place in the heart of the Indonesian capital.
President Joko Widodo who arrived immediately at the scene, having cut short a working visit to the city of Cirebon, urged the Indonesian people to remain calm, but keep on alert and stay united.
Meanwhile the whole of Indonesia, including Jakarta, Bali, Yogyakarta and other tourist destinations continue to maintain Top Security Alert – Siaga I –. Airport security has been tightened and security measures around strategic buildings, embassies, malls and other busy public areas have also been heightened, to ensure that all – both Indonesians and foreigners including tourists will stay safe.
Several countries including the U.K. and Australia issued travel warnings to their citizens.