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SLUG: 3-382 Nunan/Bali Club Bombing








/// Editors: This interview is available in Dalet under SOD/English News Now Interviews in the folder for today or yesterday ///

INTRO: A massive car-bomb explosion on Indonesia's resort island of Bali has killed at least 182 people and injured hundreds more. VOA's Steve Norman talked with reporter Patricia Nunan at the site of the bombing, in the tourist town of Kuta, Bali and asked her to describe the extent of the damage.

NUNAN: The number of places destroyed is extraordinary, probably the equivalent of a city block, in U-S terms. There are places that have had their roofs blown off, the road is littered with broken glass and broken tile, there are electricity repairman now tearing down wires, to prevent any hazards. There is loads of debris in the street and bystanders standing around and looking at all the damage.

NORMAN: This went on Patricia in a night club, is that correct?

NUNAN: A car bomb went off in front of a very popular nightclub, in the middle of a Saturday night, when it would have been most full. Some witnesses are saying there was one explosion, most people are saying there were two explosions, a small blast, which attracted curiosity and a larger blast after that.

I can see from where I am now that there is a bomb squad that is actually draining water out of a crater, so that they can do forensics on that crater.

NORMAN: Many are assuming it was terrorism. Any messages to authorities claiming responsibility?

NUNAN: At this point I am not aware of any group claiming responsibility. The thing to remember is that it appears to have been a coordinated attack. There was a small grenade or bomb thrown at the U-S Consulate in Bali, probably about 20 minutes away from here. There was also a small grenade thrown at the Philippines Consulate in Menado, Indonesia, which is several hundred miles away. And it appears these were all timed to go off roughly at the same time. Obviously, this place where I am now, Kuta beach, in Bali, has sufferred the worst in terms of destruction and loss of life. This is the only place where there was loss of life.

NORMAN: When we think of Bali, we think of its beauty, a paradise, a place for tourists to go to. Are terrorist acts foreign to Bali?

NUNAN: In the past four or five years, Indonesia has been going through so much political turmoil, while Bali has been almost untouched; to the point that among some tourist groups surveyed, people were not aware that Bali is even part of Indonesia. It is a hugely popular destination for Australians, it is almost as if every college student in Australia comes here for Spring break. It is massively popular and this is unlike anything we have ever seen in Indonesia and certainly in Bali.

NORMAN: You mentioned earlier that a bomb blast went off in Menado, that is in Sulawesi, is that correct?


NORMAN: And that is very close to the southern Philippines and the Abu Sayeff guerilla group comes to mind when we think of that area. Any indications that this could have something to do with that?

NUNAN: There has not been official word about what the blast in Menado was about. It's not the first time the Philippines have been targetted. There was an attempt to kill the Philippines ambassador (to Indonesia) a few years ago. The theory at the time was that because parts of the Philippines are so close to eastern Indonesia, some Philippine groups might be caught up in some of the Muslim-Christian clashes that take place in eastern Indonesia. That's just a theory. The bombing of the ambassador is one of the bombings in Indonesia that have gone unsolved so far.

NORMAN: There have been warnings recently by the United States of al-Qaida threats in Southest Asia. Any indication that what has happened in Bali may be connected?

NUNAN: I have not spoken to anyone yet who has credible intelligence as to whether this was al-Qaida or not. I think suspicion is going to fall on a group called Jemaah Islamiyah which U-S authorities and a lot of regional authorities say is an al-Qaida linked group based in Indonesia. Indonesian authorities, it must be said, have consistently said there is not enough evidence to link any of the alleged Jemaah Islamiyah leaders yet to al-Qaida. But I am sure that Jemaah Islamiyah and its alleged leader by the name of Abu Bakar Bashir, are going to be receiving a lot of attention in the next few days.

NORMAN: One last question about the Indonesian leadership and where they stand as regards Washington and the war on terrorism?

NUNAN: President Megawati Sukarnoputri has always said she fully supports the war on terrorism. The fact of the matter is that there are some people in Indonesia that the United States would prefer were arrested. One of them is Abu Bakar Bashir. The U-S ambassador in Jakarta consistently makes the point that it is Indonesia's responsibility to address Indonesian issues of terrorism in its own backyard. U-S officials say it is important for Indonesia to remain vigilant.


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