Bali Investigators Race To Identify Suicide Bombers
Prague, 3 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Investigators on the Indonesian island of Bali are racing to identify the three suicide bombers responsible for the 1 October attacks that left as many as 26 people dead and nearly 130 others wounded. Police officials say determining the identity of the bombers will help lead to the masterminds behind the blasts.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But many antiterror experts say the blasts bear the trademark of the militant group Jama'ah Islamiyah -- and warn that more attacks may await.
Clues to the blasts include an amateur video that appears to show one of the suicide bombers just moments before an explosion tore through a beachside restaurant in the resort town of Kuta.
The video, shot by an Australian tourist, shows crowds of vacationers sitting at the restaurant's outdoor tables. In the background, a man wearing a black T-shirt and carrying a backpack can be seen entering the restaurant. And then, seconds later, an explosion.
Within moments, two more blasts ripped through beachside restaurants in Jimbaran, 8 kilometers away.
A Japanese man wounded in one of the explosions described the ordeal: "I really don't remember what happened at the site except for the sound of a large explosion. After that, there was chaos everywhere and I remember the guy in front of me couldn't move at all."
Police sifting through the wreckage in the two resort towns now say they have recovered gruesome but compelling evidence -- three heads and three pairs of legs, with no torsos. This, they say, is the telltale forensic sign of a suicide bomber.
Investigators have broadcast photographs of the remains, hoping the public will provide a quick identification of the three suspected bombers.
Bali police chief Made Pastika said that, in turn, may help police track down the masterminds behind the blasts.
"The three suicide bombers consisted of one man in Kuta and two other men in Jimbaran. I strongly believe that there are others who were involved in the planning and the preparing of the explosives and they are the ones we are pursuing," Pastika said.
In particular, investigators are looking for clues to whether the triple bombings were the work of the Islamist militant group Jama'ah Islamiyah, which claimes links to Al-Qaeda.
Jama'ah Islamiyah has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist blasts in Indonesia in recent years, including the October 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
Investigators say the 1 October blasts were similar to past Jama'ah Islamiyah attacks. But Australian police working with Indonesian law enforcement say the explosive devices used in Kuta and Jimbaran are "quite different" than those used in previous Jama'ah Islamiyah attacks.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned that terrorists may be planning more attacks, and vowed to increase the country's vigilence. "We will do more in our national effort in fighting terrorism," he said. "We will continue to conduct our evaluations to make sure our effort is proper -- to defend, deter and combat terrorism. We are determined to continuously fight terrorism in Indonesia with an effective global, regional and parochial cooperation in the fight against terrorism."
Indonesia's police force has gone on top alert, with two-thirds of officers nationwide ready for deployment.
In addition to their human toll, the weekend attacks may deal a fatal blow to the crucial tourist industry in Bali, a Hindu enclave in predominantly Muslim Indonesia.
Bali had only recently begun to recover from a severe slump in the industry after the 2002 bombings.
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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