Terror stalks Indonesia as hotel bombs kill nine

High-explosive bombs tore through two luxury hotels in Jakarta, killing at least nine people including foreigners as terrorism returned to the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Officials said at least 41 other people were injured when two breakfast-time blasts shook the Indonesian capital's Ritz-Carlton hotel and the nearby JW Marriott, leaving terrified people bloodied from flying glass and debris.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, confronting Indonesia's bloodiest attacks since 2005 barely a fortnight after he won re-election, denounced the attacks as an "act of terrorism".

"This undermines the security situation in the country," a grim-looking Yudhoyono, whose crackdown on the extremist Jemaah Islamiyah JI appeared to have quelled the terrorism threat, said at a televised press conference.

He said the attackers "have no humanity and they don't care about the damage done to our country with this act of terrorism, which will have wide effects on our economy, trade, tourism and image in the eyes of the world".

Manchester United were due to stay at the Ritz-Carlton next week as part of an Asian tour but they cancelled the trip, denying a sell-out crowd of 100,000 the chance to see the English football giants play an Indonesia XI on Monday.

The Marriott was hit in 2003 by a blast that killed 12 people, and Friday's carnage bore the hallmark of past attacks blamed on the Al-Qaeda-linked JI both in Jakarta and the tourism hotspot of Bali.

"These were high-explosive bombs," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto told reporters at the scene, where the broad streets were littered with glass and smears of blood.

National police spokesman Nanan Soekarna confirmed at least nine people were killed and 41 were injured, including 14 foreigners, when the blasts struck around 8:00 am 0100 GMT.

"I was walking outside and I saw three injured people taken to the ambulance," shop assistant Syarif, 32, said.

"They were all foreigners, their faces and bodies all covered in blood. The skin near the eye of one of them was peeling off," he said.

Despite security measures in place at Jakarta's top hotels, including vehicle searches and metal detectors, police said one blast hit the basement of the Marriott and a second struck the restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton.

An unexploded bomb was later found and defused by police in a room of the Marriott, presidential advisor Djali Yusuf said.

Officials said seven people were killed at the Marriott, including a New Zealand businessman who died later of his wounds in hospital, and two others were killed at the Ritz-Carlton.

Extending his "deepest sympathy" to the man's family, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said: "Everything I have seen suggests that this is a deliberate attack designed to kill and wound innocent people."

At least two Australians, a South Korean man and a Japanese national were listed among the foreigners who were injured.

"Any terrorist attack is an act of cowardice. It is an act of murder," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said. "It is a barbaric act that violates the fundamental principles of human decency."

Three JI members were executed in November last year for their role in the 2002 bombings in Bali, and analysts warned at the time there could be reprisal attacks.

A baby killer whale and his mother perform at Kamogawa Sea World in Japan. AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye