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Indonesia marks 2002 Bali bombings

On this very day in 2002, 202 people, mostly Western tourists, lost their lives in bombings on island's two nightclubs.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2006 10:36 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Indonesians and foreigners on Bali marked the fourth anniversary of deadly bombings by Islamic extremists on Thursday with a series of emotional ceremonies and rituals on the resort island.

The October 12, 2002 bombings on two nightclubs killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists, and were blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terrorist network.

The atrocity claimed the lives of people from 22 countries. Australia, which for years saw Bali as its backyard playground, lost the largest number of victims, with 88.

At midnight (1600 GMT Wednesday), a 12-kilometre (seven-mile) length of cloth symbolising peace was unfurled by a group of Balinese at Jimbaran beach, beginning at one of three cafes hit by a subsequent attack in October 2005.

The triple suicide bombing last year, also blamed on key JI members, killed 20 innocent bystanders.

The cloth was unrolled along the road to the front of the international airport and then to a memorial to the victims of the 2002 attacks in the busy tourist district of Kuta.

"The cloth has been placed on the road so that anyone can step on it. It is a symbol of our willingness to forget the past while at the same time recalling the tragedies that have hit this land," said Save Dagun, one of the organisers.

"We should not cry over those who died. They are like pearls, like martyrs who must push us towards peace," he said.

The ritual unleashed emotions among Bali residents. At the airport, one man stopped his car to get out.

"Why should bombings be celebrated? I have lost a lot because of the bombs," he told those laying down the one-metre (yard) wide cloth before clambering back into his car and driving away.

It also sparked demands for the execution of the three key bombers who are now on death row - Amrozi, Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudra.

Wayan Arta, 32, and seven friends wrote on the cloth: "Please execute Amrozi!" and "Execute Amrozi in Bali!" The trio were moved to Java for security reasons.Arta witnessed both the 2002 and 2005 attacks.

"I was in Cafe Ubung, next to Menega, with a couple of Norwegian tourists when the bomb blew up at Menega (in 2005). And this scar I got when the blast took place at Paddy's in 2002," he said, gesturing to a blemish on his neck.

About 150 family and friends of victims attended a memorial held by the Australian government on a cliff overlooking the ocean near Kuta under tight security.

Eight-year-old orphan Alief, who lost his father, I Mawan Sardjono in the bombings, read a poem to the group.

"Four years ago when I was four years old, and my brother was three, I was just a little boy but my daddy went away. Now, no matter where I look for him, I only find a grave every single day," he said.

"I long to see my daddy who went away."

Australian ambassador to Indonesia Bill Farmer read a statement by Prime Minister John Howard.

"On behalf of the Australian government and people I again offer (the victims' loved ones) my deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are also with the people of Indonesia and the many other nations affected by the attack."

Back in Kuta, the street near the memorial was completely covered with cloth. Mark Parre, a bearded tourist from Western Australia, spent the night here along with others.

"We sang songs from the sixties, seventies and eighties... Many people came and sung with us," Parre said.

"Then some people came and began to put the white cloth on the ground while we kept singing. I was touched by everything that happened. With the white cloth, it's like a dream," he said.

"It is beautiful how the Balinese people share their feelings with the world, their feelings of sadness. It is beautiful that the people do it, not the government. This touches my heart."

First Published: Oct 12, 2006 09:18 IST