Suicide bombers blamed for Bali carnage02/10/2005 - 10:39:45
Suicide bombers carried out the attacks on three crowded restaurants on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 100, a top anti-terror official said yesterday.
He said two Malaysian fugitives were suspected of masterminding the strikes.
Major General Ansyaad Mbai said the three attackers went into the packed restaurants last night wearing explosive vests. The remains of their bodies were found at the scenes, he said.
“I have seen them. All that is left is their head and feet,” he said. “By the evidence we can conclude the bombers were carrying the explosives around their waists.”
Malaysians Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top have been on Indonesia’s most wanted lists since attacks on the same resort island in 2002 killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.
The two – alleged to be key members of the al-Qaida linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group – were accused of orchestrating those blasts and two others in the Indonesian capital in 2003 and 2004.
Those attacks also involved suicide bombers.
“The modus operandi of Saturday’s attacks is the same as the earlier ones,” said Mbai. “We suspect (Husin and Top) were behind this.”
The near simultaneous blasts ripped through two packed seafood cafes on Jimbaran beach and a three-story noodle and steak house in downtown Kuta, the site of the 2002 blasts.
Dozens of people, most of them Indonesian, waited in tears outside the morgue in Sanglah Hospital, near the island’s capital Denpasar, for news of friends and relatives missing since the attacks.
The hospital said 25 people were killed and 101 others were being treated at six hospitals.
Two Australians and a Japanese person were killed, along with 12 Indonesians. Hospital officials were trying to identify the nationalities of the 10 other corpses in the morgue, the hospital said in a statement.
It was not clear if the three suicide bombers were included in the toll of 25.
Among the injured were 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Koreans, three Japanese and two Americans, a hospital official said, adding that the others had yet to been identified.
Early today, police forensic experts were at the site of all three attacks, which were roped off.
The island’s airport was quiet, with little immediate sign of the massive evacuation of foreign visitors that followed in the immediate aftermath of the 2002 bombings, which devastated the island’s tourist industry.
“What happened yesterday will not make me leave,” said holidaymaker Tony Abott, from Sydney, Australia. “I am staying until Wednesday as scheduled.”
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice condemned the bombings in a statement. “The US stands with the people and government of Indonesia as they work to bring to justice those responsible for these acts of terrorism.
"We will continue to work together in our common fight against terror,” Rice said.
Western and Indonesian intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned Jemaah Islamiyah were plotting more attacks despite a string of arrests. Last month, Yudhoyono said he was especially worried the extremist network was about to strike.
“I received information at the time that terrorists were planning an action in Jakarta and that explosives were ready,” said the president, who was scheduled to go to Bali today to look at the devastation first hand.
The latest bombs went off at about 8pm as thousands of diners flocked to restaurants on the bustling tourist island that was just starting to recover from the 2002 blasts.
Baradita Katoppo, an Indonesian tourist from Jakarta, said one of the bombs on Jimbaran beach went off in the Nyoman Café, where he was eating with friends. Five minutes later another explosion rocked a neighbouring seafood restaurant.
“I could see other people sustained injuries,” he said. ”There was blood on their faces and their bodies. It was very chaotic and confusing, we didn’t know what to do.”
Witness I Wayan Kresna, told the private El Shinta radio station he counted at least two dead and that many others were brought to a hospital.
“I helped lift up the bodies,” he said, adding that many of the victims were foreigners. “There was blood everywhere.”
About 18 miles away in Kuta, at almost exactly the same time, an explosion hit the three-story Raja noodle and steakhouse in a bustling outdoor shopping centre. Smoke poured from the badly damaged building.
Yesterday’s attacks threaten to ruin a tourist boom on the mostly Hindu island, where hotels and restaurants have in the last 18 months reported that business had exceeded pre-2002 levels and that they were looking forward to a busy Christmas and New Year.
Tourism Minister Jero Wacik predicted a sharp drop in numbers, but said he hoped the island would bounce back.
Since the 2002 Bali blasts, Jemaah Islamiyah has been tied to at least two other bombings in Indonesia, both in the capital, Jakarta. Those blasts, one at the JW Marriott hotel in 2003 and the other outside the Australian Embassy in 2004, killed at least 23.
Ken Conboy, author of an upcoming book on Southeast Asian terrorism, said yesterday’s bombings had all the hallmarks of Jemaah Islamiyah.
“They saw the 2002 Bali bombing as their only true success because it inflicted foreign casualties, and the collateral damage weren’t Muslims,” he said.
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