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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bali Bombings Kill at Least 25 in Tourist Spots - New York Times

Bali Bombings Kill at Least 25 in Tourist Spots - New York TimesOctober 2, 2005
Bali Bombings Kill at Least 25 in Tourist Spots
By RAYMOND BONNER and JANE PERLEZ

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 2 - A series of bomb blasts rocked popular tourist areas on the island of Bali on Saturday night, killing at least 25 people and injuring 101, the Indonesian government and a local hospital said.

Among the places hit were a crowded restaurant outside the Four Seasons hotel at Jimbaran beach, and a shopping square in Kuta, not far from the terrorist bombing that killed 202 people in October 2002.

Witnesses described lifting bloodied bodies from the badly damaged Raja Bar and Restaurant in Kuta, and taking the injured to hospitals.

Tourists who had been eating and drinking at the Raja at a peak dinner hour staggered onto the sidewalks of the Kuta Square shopping district. The front of a middle-aged man's beach shirt was drenched in blood, his forehead gashed. Another man lay on his back on a bench, his face, head and arms covered in blood.

At Jimbaran, a blurred amateur video caught the sounds of confusion soon after the blast, as survivors tried to escape and motorcycles and cars carried the injured to hospitals.

Indonesian police believed that three suicide bombers carried out the bombings at the two sites, a presidential spokesman, Dino Djalal said this morning.

The police found a total of "six legs and three heads but no middle bodies, and that's the strong sign of suicide bombers," Mr. Djalal said.

At the beach-side restaurant in Jimbaran, near the Four Seasons hotel, two heads and two sets of legs without torsos were discovered in the debris, he said. This indicated two suicide bombers carried out the attack there, he said. At Kuta, another set of such remains was found in the shattered restaurant, Mr. Djalal said.

Mr. Djalal said there were no suspects yet. "The police can only speak to what they know," he said.

But immediate suspicion fell on Jemaah Islamiyah, a radical Islamic terrorist group in Indonesia that has used suicide bombers in the past and has been behind other major attacks, including the 2002 bombings at a Bali nightclub.

There were conflicting reports on casualties and the number of bombs. Mr. Djalal initially said six bombs had gone off at different locations about 7 p.m. Later, the police had confirmed only three bombs. A hospital in Bali said early Sunday that 25 people had been killed and 101 seriously injured. Mr. Djalal said two of the dead were foreigners. The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, said that one Australian had been killed but that he feared others could be among the dead. Diplomatic missions from other countries reported that one Japanese woman was among the dead and that five South Koreans were wounded, Agence France-Presse reported.

Among the wounded were 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, 6 Koreans, 3 Japanese and 2 Americans, according to officials at Sanglah Hospital near Denpasar, the capital of Bali.

Television reports showed chaotic scenes at a hospital as badly wounded people were wheeled into crowded corridors on gurneys, and dazed foreign tourists searched for friends.

One witness, I Wayan Krisna, told El Shinta radio that as he tried to drag victims from the debris at the Raja Bar, he saw dismembered bodies scattered on the floor. The first and second floors of the restaurant, a favorite hangout for foreigners, were heavily damaged, but the third floor was virtually intact.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono immediately met with counterterrorism police investigators in Jakarta who have dealt with previous attacks here, Mr. Djalal said. The government did not know who was behind Saturday's explosions, he said. "We are going to marshal all our resources to hunt the perpetrators; the people who are going to do this are seasoned," Mr. Djalal said.

The bombs were timed in sequence much like those in the 2002 bombings by Jemaah Islamiyah and came just short of the Oct. 12 anniversary. Two suicide bombers, including one with a car bomb, were responsible for the earlier attacks. Of the 202 people killed, more than 80 were Australians. At about the same time, a smaller bomb went off outside the United States Consulate, where there were no fatalities.

"The president feared something like this would be attempted around this time," Mr. Djalal said, referring to the anniversary.

Initial reports Saturday night indicated that there did not appear to be a car bomb involved in the attacks. The first blasts occurred in Jimbaran, and they were followed by the blast at the Raja in Kuta.

Whoever was behind the bombings chose two different sides of Bali. Kuta is a reasonably priced, crowded shopping street with cheek-by-jowl shops, bars and boutiques. Jimbaran, about three miles away, is a more spacious area, with five-star hotels and new luxury condominiums, that appeals to more affluent tourists. One of the blasts in Jimbaran went off about 500 yards outside the Four Seasons hotel, said Fajar Yulinto, the duty manager of the Four Seasons in Jakarta.

The blasts came just as Bali had seemed to put the 2002 terror attacks behind it, and as the tourism industry, the mainstay of the economy, was steaming to recovery.

Tourists, particularly Australians, have been flooding back to the island, even though the Australian government has kept a travel advisory in place, warning Australians that travel there was risky. The United States and Britain also have warnings about travel to Bali.

Although President Yudhoyono has been praised by the United States for cracking down on terrorists, American officials expressed nervousness several months ago that another major attack in Indonesia could be in the works. Much of the attention focused, however, on the capital, Jakarta, not Bali.

The two main bomb-makers for Jemaah Islamiyah remain at large despite the arrests of scores of members of the group. Indeed, Mr. Yudhoyono worried that Indonesia was vulnerable to further terrorism, his aides said. Two other major attacks in Jakarta, in 2003 and 2004, were attributed to Jemaah Islamiyah and carried out by suicide bombers.

In August 2003, 12 people were killed and at least 150 injured at the JW Marriott Hotel. In September 2004, at least 9 Indonesians were killed when a suicide bomber drove up to the front gate of the Australian Embassy.

The attack on Bali in 2002 began when a suicide bomber set off his explosive vest inside Paddy's Club at 11:08 p.m. The explosion is believed to have killed eight people, and it also drove panicked patrons out into the street, where another bomb was waiting. That bomb, a much bigger one hidden in a van parked outside the Sari Club, was set off by a second man 29 seconds later, ripping through the crowds in the narrow street.

The attacks did severe harm to Bali's tourism industry, which was further hurt by the scare over sudden acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and the outbreak of the Iraq war. While tourist visits have steadily increased in the past two years, they have not reached their former levels.

The bombings also galvanized the Indonesian government to act against Islamic militants after years of ignoring or failing to act on warnings from the United States and other nations that terrorists were active there. Since then, the government has made hundreds of arrests of suspected militants, including people accused of plotting attacks against United States interests overseas.

Three brothers were convicted for organizing the 2002 Bali bombings. One brother, Ali Gufron, who is known as Mukhlas, was sentenced to death in 2003 after being found guilty of having overall responsibility for the attack. His brother Amrozi was also sentenced to death. The third brother, Ali Imron, received a life sentence after cooperating with the authorities and expressing remorse.

Prosecutors said that before that attack, Mukhlas assumed the role of operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah. He took the commanding position from another Indonesian, Hambali, who also goes by the name Riduan Isamuddin. Hambali, who is believed to be directly involved in Al Qaeda, was captured in Thailand in August 2003 and is now in American custody.

This past March, Jemaah Islamiyah's supreme leader, the cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, was convicted of criminal conspiracy in connection with the Bali bombings.

Raymond Bonner contributed reporting for this article.

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