Manchester United Cancels Indonesia Visit After Bomb

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Manchester United scrapped its first trip to Indonesia after a deadly bomb struck the Ritz Carlton hotel in Jakarta where the English soccer champion was due to stay from tomorrow.

Blasts at the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott hotels killed at least eight people and injured 42 others in the Indonesian capital’s first terrorist attack since 2005, police said.

United players including Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen landed in Kuala Lumpur today from the U.K. hours after the explosions and were due to fly to Jakarta tomorrow after playing in the Malaysian capital. United manager Alex Ferguson said the decision was taken to safeguard players.

“We’re rather shocked, we got the news as we landed,” Ferguson said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur. “We’re disappointed; we’ve never been to Indonesia before.”

Although United may arrange a new game outside Indonesia, it is more likely to stay in Malaysia for an extra night, United Chief Executive Officer David Gill said at the news conference.

The Indonesian Super League XI, due to face United on July 20, was staying at the Marriott and only missed the explosions because players were training at the time, said Azwan Karim, media officer for the Indonesian Football Association.

United canceled the trip “based on advice received,” the team added in a statement, without elaborating.

Fan base

United sent a full-strength squad with 20 internationals including England’s Rooney and new signing Owen for its fifth tour of Asia. The team is also due to play in South Korea on July 24 and China two days later. More than half United’s 333 million fans are in Asia and about 12 million are based in Indonesia, according to club estimates.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, has been largely free of terrorist attacks since a bombing campaign blamed on the Southeast Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah left about 280 people dead between 1999 and 2005.

Today’s blasts went off at about 7:45 a.m. and ripped the fa├žade off the Ritz, blew out windows and showered the street outside the hotels in the up-market Mega Kuningan district with glass and debris.

“The lobby of the Ritz Carlton was destroyed,” said Rubi Purnomo, a spokesman at the Indonesian unit of Newmont Mining Corp., who witnessed the blasts from an adjacent building.

“Our thoughts go to all those affected by the blasts,” United said in the statement.

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