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Bali bombings remembered 6 years later

world Updated: Oct 12, 2008 18:02 IST
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Survivors, relatives and tourists remembered victims of the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings on their sixth anniversary on Sunday by lighting candles and laying wreaths in two small but emotional ceremonies on the resort island. Many of the 100 people who participated in the 45-minute memorial at the site of the bombings, which killed 202 people, were moved to tears. Others were frustrated by delays in plans to execute three Islamic militants found guilty of planning and helping orchestrate the twin suicide attacks.

"For a long time we considered Bali as the most peaceful place, as a paradise. (It) suddenly changed, became hell," said Made Mangku Pastika, the former police chief who led investigations into the attacks. "The tragedy very soon made us realize the dark side of our own lives."

The bombings _ carried out by members of the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah _ thrust Southeast Asia onto the front lines of the war on terror.

Indonesia has since suffered three smaller attacks, the last also on Bali in 2005, but foreign diplomats, analysts and authorities agree that the threat level is significantly lower today. The three convicted Bali bombers _ Amrozi Nurhasyim, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra _ have exhausted all appeals and are expected to be executed before year's end. They have repeatedly said they do not regret the attacks, which were meant to punish the United States and its allies.

Most of those killed were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.

"We believe they should have been executed six years ago," said Tim Dowsett, a tourist from Perth who attended the ceremony at the memorial garden of the Australian Consulate on Bali. "Too long. It's taking too long."