Southeast Asia Sharing More Intelligence after Jakarta Attacks

MANILA — Southeast Asian countries are sharing more intelligence following the deadly hotel bombings in Jakarta in case they herald a new wave of terrorist strikes in the region, a top Philippine security official said Thursday.

The bomb design and mode of attack matched those used by Jemaah Islamiyah, although there has been no evidence to pin last Friday's bombings on the Southeast Asian terror network, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said.

The blasts at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, the first terrorist attack in Indonesia in nearly four years, killed nine people, including six foreigners and two suspected suicide bombers. More than 50 people were wounded.

"It's very JI," Gonzales told a news conference.

"We cannot disregard the possibility of a JI resurgence in the region," he said. "We're really beginning to exchange analysis and information with our neighbors now."

The Philippines has long faced Muslim militancy in its volatile south, and has recently been hit by a series of bombings.

An attack outside a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cotabato City on July 5 killed six people and wounded dozens. Two days later, a motorcycle bomb on Jolo Island killed at least two people and wounding 20 more. Another bomb that day in Iligan city wounded 11 people.

Gonzales said there were strong indications that Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah militants played a role.

The military here has long suspected Jemaah Islamiyah militants of training Filipino militants from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the smaller but more violent Abu Sayyaf group in bomb-making and other acts of sabotage.

The 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front has denied any links with Jemaah Islamiyah.

About 20 to 30 Indonesian radicals belonging to the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah are believed to hide in the southern Philippines, including top terror suspects Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who goes by one name.

Several Indonesians, including Patek and Dulmatin, have been hiding with the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo island. Others have been given sanctuary by a number of Moro Islamic Liberation Front commanders without permission from the group's leadership, according to the military.

Patek and Dulmatin have been linked by Indonesian authorities to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, many of them foreigners.

But Pedro Cabuay Jr, director-general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, said no link has been found between the Jakarta bombings and the recent attacks in the southern Philippines. There have been no claims of responsibility for any of the attacks.

The military blamed MILF rebels for the blasts in Cotabato and Iligan. The group, which has been fighting for Muslim self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation for decades, denied the charges.

On Thursday, the Philippine government said it had ordered the military to stop offensives against the separatists in a bid to restart peace talks.

Philippine officials believe that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership does not condone terrorist acts. However, a number of rebel commanders have defied orders and launched bomb attacks to express their disgust with the government after it backed off last year from signing a preliminary deal with the rebels on establishing an expanded Muslim autonomous region in the south. The Supreme Court declared the deal unconstitutional.

Militants from the smaller but more violent Abu Sayyaf were suspected in the Jolo explosion.

The Philippines, like Washington, considers the Abu Sayyaf a terrorist organization and has no intention to engage the group in peace negotiations.