Indonesia vows to tighten Bali security

Indonesian police on Thursday pledged to beef up security in Bali after last weekend’s deadly bomb blasts, as they hunted for leads in the attacks blamed on Islamic militants. The promise came amid concern about visitors returning to the tourism-dependent island, hit on Saturday for the second time in three years by deadly extremist attacks.

Nineteen people were killed in addition to the three presumed suicide bombers and more than 120 wounded in separate attacks on jam-packed restaurants on Bali, while a series of nightclub blasts in October 2002 claimed 202 lives.

No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, but the finger of blame has been pointed at two fugitive Malaysian bombmakers linked to the Islamic extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for the 2002 blasts.

Police have yet to make any formal arrests in their investigation of the bombings but said they were working round the clock to identify the three attackers and the masterminds behind the blasts.

Deputy national police spokesperson Sunarko Danu Ardanto said police had so far questioned 94 people, but there was no indication that any were believed to have been involved in the attacks.

On Bali’s Jimbaran beach, police lifted the security cordon surrounding the strip where two restaurants were hit but said the area’s eateries would only reopen for business after the installation of high-tech security systems.

“We have got the permission from the police to remove the police line. It was removed as of 2.15pm,” said Nyoman Dharmada, the head of the South Kuta subdistrict police which oversees Jimbaran beach.

“Before the restaurants begin operations, we will implement a new security system.
Only after that the businesses will open, hopefuly within three weeks,” he said.

Police were to set up road checks and a single entry point for the area, install surveillance cameras, conduct body searches and establish a permanent station nearby.

The Kuta blast site has yet to reopen, but workers were already busy building a barricade in front of the devastated Raja restaurant in preparation for the reopening of the area.

Agus Salim, an official at the Indonesian information ministry, said it was important to reopen the areas as quickly as possible to “bring the situation back to normal”.

Employees of shops near the Kuta site said they had been asked to report to work on Friday.

As the investigation widened, police on Indonesia’s main island of Java said on Wednesday they were looking for five men suspected of terrorist links who had previously been under surveillance.

A total of four Australians and one Japanese are now confirmed to have died in Saturday’s bombings. The remaining 14 victims were from Indonesia, one of them still unidentified.

The Muslim minority community in Bali has begun the holy fasting month of Ramadan, but for some, the start of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar has been tainted by Saturday’s bombings.

“I am very sad because of this second bomb, because it is extremely tragic and of great concern. How can it happen again?” said 24-year-old Lukman Hakim, security guard at the small Al-Mujahedin mosque in Kuta. - AFP

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