Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the government was on the alert and would increase surveillance after Tuesday's deadly car bomb blast outside the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta which killed at least 10 people.

  

But he warned “terrorism” would continue to haunt the region and the world unless the root causes were removed.

  

US approach 'flawed'

 

"For how long can we continue to take precautions? If we relax one day, it will occur again. As long as the root causes of terrorism are not addressed, we will continue to face these problems," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

  

Asked if the United States was to be blamed for the way it handled the Palestinian crisis which he has cited as a key factor driving “terrorism”, he said he was not blaming them but "we think the US approach will not reduce the threat of terrorists."

  

Mahathir also hit back at critics over Malaysia's move to detain without trial some 70 suspected members of Islamic groups under a tough security law over the past two years.

 

"To successfully defeat the terrorists, one needs to know what makes his heart beat and what feeds his anger." --Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi  

"Everyone said Malaysia was cruel to arrest and detain people but now they know which is better, whether to allow bombs to explode first and then arrest people, or to arrest people before the bombs explode."

  

Separately, his deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Jakarta explosion showed “terrorism” was not a problem which could be wiped out easily.

  

"We can make life very difficult for terrorist elements. We can scatter them, we can cut off one head here and one tentacle there, but often the beast survives," he said opening a three-day Asia-Pacific security conference in Kuala Lumpur.

  

"It melts into the alleyways, the hills, the forests... but it mutates, then strikes again. This time it was Jakarta. Tomorrow or a month after or a year, it could be another place. No city, no island, no country is safe."

  

Abdullah, who will succeed Mahathir who retires end-October, urged Asian countries not to just focus on "punitive and military measures" but to summon political courage to address the root causes of “terrorism”.

  

He said it was virtually impossible to police long coastlines and archipelagic waters in the region, even with the most advanced resources.

  

"This is why, above all, to successfully defeat the terrorists, one needs to know what makes his heart beat and what feeds his anger."