- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2002

JAKARTA, Indonesia A bomb destroyed a nightclub on the tourist island of Bali yesterday, killing at least 110 people in what officials said was the worst act of terror in Indonesia's history.
The bomb also injured 178 others and sparked a devastating inferno. Authorities said a second bomb exploded near the island's U.S. consular office.
"This is the worst act of terror in Indonesia's history," said Gen. Da'i Bachtiar, the national police chief. "We have to be more alert for other acts of terror."
Many foreigners were among those killed in the Sari Club at the Kuta Beach resort, but their nationalities were not available, said Lt. Col. Yatim Suyatno, a police spokesman.
The explosion went off about 11 p.m. The second explosive detonated a few minutes later in the nearby city of Denpasar, Bali's capital, about 300 feet from a U.S. consular office, Col. Suyatno said. Police said there were no casualties in that blast.
Witnesses on the famous tourist island, which draws large numbers of Australians, said that the nightclub blaze engulfed another nearby club and damaged several other buildings on the same block and a dozen cars.
"The place was packed, and it went up within a millisecond," Simon Quayle, the coach of an Australian rules football team, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Mr. Quayle, whose team was visiting Bali and at the resort at the time of the blast, said that he made it safely out of the building but that eight of his 19 players were missing.
"We have received 110 bodies so far," said Molin Yudiasa, a doctor at Denpasar's main Sanghlah Hospital.
A bomb squad was investigating both blasts, but Indonesian officials declined to provide a motive or blame any group.
Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer blamed it on terrorism. "It looks as though this was a terrorist attack," he said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.
He said he believed that the Sari nightclub was targeted because it was popular with Australians and other foreigners.
He said Australians were almost certainly among the dead, estimating that at least 40 Australians were injured, about 15 of them seriously.
White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said Washington was monitoring the situation and working with Indonesian authorities. U.S. officials said they didn't know whether there were any Americans among the casualties.
The blasts, occurring on the second anniversary of the al Qaeda-linked attack against the USS Cole off Yemen that left 17 sailors dead, come amid increasing fears by the United States and others that Indonesia is becoming a haven for terrorists and that al Qaeda operatives are active there.
Indonesian officials have denied the charges, but the U.S. Embassy in the national capital of Jakarta closed Sept. 10 and remained shut for six days because of what U.S. officials said were threats possibly linked to the al Qaeda network. And Americans traveling in central Java were warned to be vigilant.
Days later, a hand grenade exploded in a car near a house belonging to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, killing one man. There was conflicting information as to whether the device was meant to harm Americans.
Authorities in Malaysia and Singapore have charged that members of Jemaah Islamiyah a group said to be seeking to set up an Islamic state in Southeast Asia are based in Indonesia.
Singapore has been pressing Indonesia to arrest Jemaah Islamiyah's purported leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, who lives in Indonesia. But Indonesian officials say they have no evidence against him.
The injured were being treated in hospitals and clinics, said officials at Sanglah hospital in Denpasar, 600 miles east of Jakarta. British officials said at least five Britons were injured.
Wayan Putra, a driver at the nearby hotel, said dozens of injured were evacuated by scooter drivers who typically ferry tourists from one part of the resort to another.
Australian tourist Rachel Hughes, 18, said she and a friend had just arrived in Kuta when the blast occurred.
"Standing in the foyer of the Bounty Hotel, people were just walking in, blood dripping off them, burns to their face, skin coming off them," she told Australia's Seven Network.
Police and the military restricted access in and out of Bali from Denpasar's Ngurah Rai airport and the area seaports in Benoa, Gilimanuk and Padang Bai, Col. Suyatno said, according to a report carried by the state-run Antara news agency.
Although Indonesia has been wracked by ethnic and religious violence since the overthrow four years ago of former dictator Suharto, Bali itself has remained quiet. Yesterday's bombings are likely to be a huge blow to Indonesia's lucrative tourism industry and might also undermine government efforts to revive the economy.

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