October 01, 2005

Bombings in Indonesian resort island of Bali kill at least 19

Updated at 12:45 on October 1, 2005, EST.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) - At least two bombs exploded almost simultaneously Saturday in tourist areas of the Indonesian resort island of Bali, killing at least 19 people and wounding 51 others, officials said. The blasts came a month after Indonesia's president warned of possible terrorist attacks.

The wounded included at least two Americans.

The blasts at Jimbaran beach and a bustling outdoor shopping centre in downtown Kuta were the work of terrorists, Indonesian President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono said. He also warned that more attacks were possible.

"We will hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice," he said after being briefed by top security officials. He also urged people "to be on alert."

The attacks occurred nearly three years to the day that bombings in Kuta killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. Two of them were Canadians. Those attacks were blamed on the al-Qaida-linked terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Western and Indonesian intelligence agencies have consistently warned the group was plotting more attacks. Last month, Yudhoyono said he was especially worried the extremist network was about to carry out more attacks.

Vice-President Yusuf Kalla told the British Broadcasting Corp. it was too soon to identify the bombers. He said Yudhoyono will visit the area Sunday.

Putu Putra Wisada, spokesman at the Sangla Hospital in the capital, Denpasar, said 11 dead were taken to the hospital and 38 other people were admitted with injuries - 28 Indonesians, eight Australians and two Americans.

A receptionist at the Graha Asih Hospital close to Jimbaran Bay said at least eight bodies were in its morgue, and that doctors were treating at least 13 other people.

"It's a horrible scene," said the receptionist, Komang.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Sunday that at least one Australian was killed. The nationalities of the remaining dead were not immediately known.

The latest bombs went off at about 7:30 p.m., local time, at two restaurants packed with foreign and Indonesian diners.

I Wayan Kresna said he witnessed the first bomb at a seafood restaurant on Jimbaran beach. He counted at least two dead and said many others were brought to a hospital.

"I helped lift up the bodies," he told the private El Shinta radio station. "There was blood everywhere."

Another explosion hit the three-storey Raja noodle and steakhouse in a bustling outdoor shopping centre of Kuta, about 30 kilometres. Smoke poured from the badly damaged building.

The bomb apparently went off on the restaurant's second floor, and an Associated Press reporter saw at least three bodies and five wounded people there. There was no crater outside the building, indicating the blast was not caused by a car bomb.

The area includes a KFC fast-food restaurant, clothing stores and a tourist information centre.

The exact number of blasts was not clear. Some witnesses said they heard at least two explosions at each location.

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 J.W. Marriott hotel in 2003 and the other outside the Australian Embassy in 2004, killed at least 23.

No comments: