Decade after attack, tears for dead, hope for Bali
By Firdia Lisnawati ,AP
October 13, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
BALI, Indonesia -- A decade after bombs ripped through two Bali nightclubs, Friday's memorial was filled with reminders of what was lost in this tropical paradise, and what was not. Tears fell as victims' names were read, but not far away, surfers paddled for world-class waves and vacationing shoppers lined busy sidewalks haggling for souvenirs.
Terrorists killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, when one blew himself up inside and another set off a car bomb at the popular Sari Club and Paddy's Pub in Kuta that sultry Saturday night in 2002. But radicalism did not take over this moderate Muslim nation, and the visitors terrorists once scared away from the resort island have come flooding back.
Hotel rooms were hard to come by Friday, even as security alerts were raised to the highest level following a potential unspecific threat.
“There is peace in this island, and the knowledge that millions still come here for the same reasons you and your loved ones did,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told victims' loved ones at a memorial service. “And perhaps there is a grim reassurance in knowing that the terrorists did not achieve what they set out to do. They did not undermine Indonesian democracy, which has only grown stronger across the passage of a decade.”
Australia suffered more deaths in the attacks than any other country, with 88 of its citizens dead. Bali, with its lively nightlife and warm pristine waters, has long been a favorite getaway for Australians, and Gillard herself had returned home from a family holiday a day before the Oct. 12, 2002, attacks.
The Australian government paid for more than 600 survivors and victims' family members to attend the ceremony. Some gathered for the memorial in shorts and T-shirts, fanning themselves in the blazing morning heat.
Remembrances were also held across Australia to mark the anniversary. In the capital, Canberra, dignitaries and family members of those killed gathered at Parliament House to mourn.
The attack, carried out by suicide bombers from the al-Qaida-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, started a wave of violence in the world's most populous Muslim nation, hitting an embassy, hotels and restaurants. Three years later, another bomb attack killed 20 people.
The 2002 attacks were “like a tsunami disaster for us here,” said Wayan Gota, a handicraft trader in Bali. “The attack not only killed hundreds of people, but also destroyed every sector of our lives and led to prolonged economic difficulties. ... It took several years for us to recover from the paralysis.”
Security was tight at Friday's memorial with more than 2,000 police and military deployed, including snipers. Two days earlier, police said they had received information about a potential terrorist threat. Bali deputy police chief Brig. Gen. Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said new intelligence indicates the threat may have weakened, but he added that security forces would remain vigilant and continue to closely monitor movement in and out of the island.