- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

BALI, Indonesia Terrified tourists yesterday tried to flee this island paradise as the death toll from a pair of bombings climbed to 190 and fears grew that al Qaeda has taken its terror campaign to the world's largest Muslim country.
World leaders called for renewed efforts in the war on terrorism after the attack, which killed vacationers from Australia, Germany, Canada, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland and South Africa.
Three Americans were among the more than 300 people injured, but authorities said most of the remains had not yet been identified.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia's history. But suspicion turned to al Qaeda and an affiliated group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which wants to establish a pan-Islamic state across Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. It is accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. and other embassies in Singapore.
In Denpasar, Bali's main city, the airport was thronged by stunned travelers cutting short their vacations and desperate to go home after the most terrifying night of their lives.
Crowds camped out near a McDonald's, working their mobile phones to make hard-to-get airline bookings. Many spent the night on the beach, terrified after the blasts to go near built-up areas.
The Australian air force set up a massive evacuation operation to bring home survivors for medical treatment. The first flight arrived yesterday in the northern city of Darwin, carrying 15 persons identified as American, Australian and Canadian.
President Bush condemned the attack as "a cowardly act designed to create terror and chaos" and offered U.S. help in finding the perpetrators. "The world must confront this global menace, terrorism," he said.
The State Department late yesterday urged all U.S. citizens in Indonesia to leave the country and ordered the departure of nonemergency U.S. government personnel from there. The department also warned U.S. citizens to defer travel to Indonesia.
Officials from Australia, Britain, France and the European Union also offered to help investigate the bombings, which tore through a nightclub district on the island of Bali Saturday.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch supporter on the U.S.-led war on terrorism, said: "The war against terrorism must go on with unrelenting vigor and an unconditional commitment.
"It is not an occasion for hotheaded responses, but certainly not an occasion to imagine that if you roll yourself up into a little ball all these horrible things will go away," Mr. Howard told Australian television's Channel Nine.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw offered to send forensic and counterterrorism specialists to Indonesia, and French President Jacques Chirac said France would offer "all possible help to help identify the perpetrators of these vile acts and bring them to justice."
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Mr. Straw called the attackers "the most evil and most perverted people who think that some political aim of theirs can be achieved by attacking mainly young people."
Russian President Vladimir Putin also called for more international cooperation against international terrorism.
"We should have only one conclusion: The vital necessity of an uncompromising, truly general struggle everywhere with this evil of the 21st century," he said in a condolence message to Mr. Howard.
The destruction began when a small homemade bomb exploded outside Paddy's Discotheque in the maze of clubs and bars on Kuta Beach, a popular haunt with young travelers. Shortly afterward, a huge blast from a bomb in a Toyota Kijang, a jeep-like vehicle, devastated the crowded Sari Club, a surfers' hangout 30 yards down the street.
A third, smaller bomb exploded outside the U.S. Consulate. No one was injured in that blast.
The second blast ripped into the open-air bar, triggering a massive burst of flames that officials said was caused by the explosion of gas cylinders used for cooking. The explosion collapsed the roof of the flimsy structure, trapping revelers in flaming wreckage. The explosions and fire damaged about 20 buildings and devastated much of the block.
Identification of the dead was slow, because some were burned beyond recognition.
American Amos Libby, 25, felt himself lifted off his feet as he walked by the Sari Club as the bomb detonated.
"All the buildings in the vicinity just collapsed, cars overturned and debris from the buildings fell on them," he said, without giving his hometown. "I have never seen anything so horrible. There were so many people, 18-to-20-year-olds, people in pieces all over the street."
President Megawati Sukarnoputri flew to Bali, a mostly Hindu island in a Muslim archipelago, and wept as she toured the wreckage. Asked about a possible link to al Qaeda, she said: "That will be continuously investigated so that this can be uncovered as soon as possible." She promised to cooperate with other nations to fight terror.
U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce said it was not possible yet to pin the Bali attack on al Qaeda, but noted that increasing evidence in recent weeks has confirmed that al Qaeda is present in Indonesia and reaching out to local extremists.
"In recent weeks, we have been able to put an end to a year of speculation as to whether al Qaeda might be in Indonesia, or relocating to Indonesia, or using Indonesia as a base of operations, after the fall of Afghanistan," Mr. Boyce said.
While its neighbors have arrested scores of militants from Jemaah Islamiyah, Jakarta has done little and denied that it is a haven for terrorists.
Several countries have pressed Indonesia to arrest Jemaah Islamiyah's suspected leader, Abu Bakar Bashir. But Indonesia says it has no evidence and Mr. Bashir has sympathizers in Mrs. Megawati's government.


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