Indonesia: Police Probe Possible Suicide Bomber Attacks In Bali
Indonesia's antiterrorism chief says near-simultaneous explosions yesterday on the resort island of Bali were likely caused by suicide bombers working with Jemaah Islamiyah -- a network seen as the regional arm of Al-Qaeda. Authorities in Jakarta say the strikes that killed at least 25 people were conducted in a similar way to that attacks on Bali three years ago that killed 202 people, most of them foreigners. But Indonesia's president says it is too early to assign blame for the attacks. And investigators at the scenes of yesterday's explosions say they have not yet determined whether suicide bombers were involved.
Prague, 2 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The calm sound of ocean waves on a tourist's video shot at a beachside restaurant on the Indonesian resort island of Bali yesterday are suddenly interrupted by an enormous explosion and screams of panic as tourists ran for safety.
The footage emerged today as Indonesian police investigate the series of coordinated explosions that ripped through three crowded restaurants in Bali -- killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 100 people.
Authorities at the scenes of the blasts say they are searching for clues to whether suicide bombers were involved.
Reports suggest explosives may have been buried in the sand beneath beachside tables at some of the restaurants.
Bali's police chief Made Manguku Pastika visited one of the sites early today -- Raja's restaurant in Kuta Beach -- with forensic investigators and terrorism experts.
Pastika says the attacks are likely to hurt Bali's tourism based economy -- which is still trying to recover for coordinated attacks on tourist nightclubs nearly three years ago that killed 202 people.
Major General Ansyaad Mbai, the chief of antiterrorism operations in Indonesia, said in Jakarta today that the attacks bore the hallmarks of the work of Jemaah Islamiyah -- a militant Islamic network seen as a regional arm of Al -Qaeda. Indonesia authorities also blame Jemaah Islamiyah for the 2002 Bali attacks.
But Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said today that it is too soon to blame anyone for yesterday's attacks. He has branded the attacks acts of terrorism and has vowed to catch those responsible.
"These were clearly acts of terrorism because the victims were indiscriminately chosen and the targets were public areas. As president and on behalf of the Republic of Indonesia, I strongly condemn these inhuman acts," Yudhoyono said.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said it has been confirmed that a 16-year-old Australian boy is among the dead. Howard says there are fears for the lives of at least two of 17 other Australian citizens who were injured.
"I speak for every Australian in expressing a sense of horror and outrage at the latest and clearly a terrorist attack in Bali. This absolutely horrific attack has all the hallmarks of terrorism. There were four bombs. There is some possibility that suicide bombers were involved [although] it is too early to confirm that," Howard said.
Howard said he plans to speak with the Indonesian president later today. He said his government already has made plans to help Bali, which is a popular destination for Australian tourists.
"We are making police available. We are making victim identification people available. We have C-130s that will be going to Bali during the course of the day. We have chartered other aircraft. Our embassy personnel are on the way there. And any additional resources that will be needed -- doctors, medical teams -- are being assembled if they are needed," Howard said.
While the majority of victims were Indonesians, Howard said it is believed that other victims also included nationals from South Korea, Japan, and possibly Germany. And he urged calm in Australia's own Muslim minority.
"I want to reassure, again, the Muslim community of Australia that we see them as friends. We don't see them as enemies. We see them as sharing the struggle. Not as a group of people who should feel frightened and isolated and alienated. This is as much an attack on the way of life the overwhelming majority of them hold dear as it is an attack on the way of life that I hold dear," Howard said.
The United States, Britain, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also have condemned the attacks.
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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