Gillard Heads to Bali After Terror Warning on Bomb Anniversary
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend a ceremony in Bali tomorrow to mark the 10th anniversary of bombings that killed 202 people, after Indonesian police said terrorists may be plotting new attacks.
“I am intending to go to Bali,” Gillard told reporters in Canberra today, adding that she wouldn’t comment on security arrangements. “I want to be in Bali. This is a moment of real significance for our nation. Ten years ago I think we would all remember where we were and how we felt, how shocked we were. I want to spend some time with the families who have really had to absorb such grief.”
Bali’s police chief Ketut Untung Yoga said late yesterday that intelligence “indicates that a terrorist group wants to use the occasion as their target.” National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar downplayed that warning today, saying no direct threat had been received.
The October 2002 Bali nightclub attacks, which killed 88 Australians, are blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda linked group. The two alleged masterminds, Noordin Top and Dulmatin, were killed during police raids in 2009 and 2010. Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and former prime minister John Howard are among the leaders attending tomorrow’s ceremony.
Indonesia, a secular state with the world’s biggest population of Muslims, has stepped up raids against terror suspects since bombings in 2009 at Jakarta’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels killed nine people, including the two attackers. They were the first terrorist attacks in the country by Islamic militants in almost four years.
“The situation is secure and tomorrow we will secure the Bali 2012 memorial service,” Yoga said today by phone, adding that about 1,100 police officers will be deployed to safeguard the event.
“We haven’t received any threats,” Amar, the national police spokesman, said by phone. “No threats, but indications are something that we monitor.”
Indonesia executed three men convicted of the Bali attacks in 2008. Another militant, Umar Patek, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison in June for his role in making the explosives used in the bombings. The U.S. had offered a reward of $1 million for Patek, who was arrested last year in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden.
In September 2009, police killed Top, who was suspected of involvement in every major anti-Western attack in Indonesia since 2002. In March of the following year they killed Dulmatin and two others. In March this year, Indonesia’s Detachment-88 anti-terrorism squad killed five suspected terrorists in Bali. The men had literature about jihad, weapons and ammunition, and were planning robberies to fund attacks, police said.
“Old terror groups have already been captured,” Amar said Amar. “What’s being looked into is the possibility of any movements” and potential new terrorist groups that “need to be watched out for,” he said.
At 153 kilometers (95 miles) by 112 kilometers, Bali is a little larger than Rhode Island and attracts more than a third of all visitors to Indonesia with a mix of nightlife and surfing in the southern beach resorts, and rice terraces and temples around Ubud in the volcanic, mountainous center.
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