Bombing in Bali Nightclub Kills 187
Sun Oct 13, 5:36 AM ET
By IRWAN FIRDAUS, Associated Press Writer
A car bomb destroyed a crowded nightclub on the tourist island of Bali Saturday,
sparking a devastating inferno that killed at least 187 people and wounded 300 ?
many of them foreigners. Officials said it was the worst terrorist act in
Slideshow: Bali Nightclub Explosion
Authorities said a second bomb exploded near the island's U.S. consular office.
Police said there were no casualties in that explosion, but the Embassy was on
edge Sunday after its recreation club in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, was
evacuated because of a bomb threat.
The blasts came three days after the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide
alert for terror attacks and highlighted fears by the United States and others
that Indonesia ? the most populous Muslim nation ? is becoming a haven for
terrorists and that al-Qaida operatives are active.
There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing in the Sari Club at the Kuta
Beach resort, which officials said killed Indonesians along with Australians,
Canadians, Britons, and Swedes. More than 300 people were injured, at least 90
of them critically, officials said.
"This is the worst act of terror in Indonesia's history," Gen. Da'i Bachtiar, the
national police chief, told reporters at the site of the blast. "We have to be more
alert for other acts of terror."
Bachtiar said the bomb exploded in a Kijanj, a jeep-like vehicle.
President Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose government has been accused by the
United States and its neighbors of being slow to respond to the terror threat, flew to Bali and promised to cooperate with the international community in fighting
The government's crisis center in Bali said 187 people had died and that 309 were
hurt, about 90 of them critically.
"The bombings, once again, should be a warning for all of us that terrorism
constitutes a real danger and potential threat to the national security," Megawati
said. She later visited the site, tears in her eyes, with security ministers and top
Asked about the suspected origins of the bombers or a possible link to al-Qaida, she
said: "That will be continuously investigated to that this can be uncovered
as soon as possible."
The explosion went off about 11 p.m. and left a huge crater at the entrance to the
nightclub, which was located in the center of Kuta. It is Bali's biggest tourist
area and a maze of clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels and beach bungalows. It
caters to a younger crowd of tourists and surfers.
The blast ignited a huge blaze ? apparently caused by exploding gas cylinders ?
which collapsed the flimsy roof structure, trapping hundreds of revelers inside.
Footage from Associated Press Television News showed several bodies strewn
among the rubble.
"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.
Quayle, whose team was visiting Bali, said he made it safely out of the building but
eight of his 19 players were missing.
The blaze then engulfed a nearby nightclub before racing through about 20 other
buildings on the block, heavily damaging many of them.
The second explosive detonated a few minutes after the first in the nearby city of
Denpasar, Bali's capital, about 300 feet from a U.S. consular office, Suyatno
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.
He said he believed 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 wounded, about 15
of them seriously.
Later Sunday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he will launch an urgent
review of national security in the wake of the attack. He said the attack
demonstrated Australia was not immune from terror.
Wayan Putra, a driver at the nearby Poppies hotel, said that after the blast,
hundreds of townspeople rushed toward the nightclub but could not get near it
because of the intense flames.
White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said Washington was monitoring the
situation and working with Indonesian authorities. U.S. officials said they didn't know
if there were any Americans among the casualties.
The blasts occurred on the second anniversary of the al-Qaida linked attack against
USS Cole (news - web sites) off Yemen that left 17 sailors dead.
Australia has also been one of the United States' staunchest allies in its war on
terror and has 150 elite troops serving in Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Indonesian officials have denied the claims that terrorists are using Indonesia as a
base. But the U.S. Embassy in the national capital of Jakarta closed Sept. 10
and remained shut for six days due to what U.S. officials said were threats
possibly linked to al-Qaida. And Americans traveling in central Java were warned to
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 alleged 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 alleged leader,
Abu Bakar Bashir, who lives in Indonesia. But Indonesian officials say they have
no evidence against him.
Australia 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
Downer said Australia had sent an air force plane with a medical team to Bali to help
the hard-pressed local hospitals and to possibly evacuate wounded
National carrier Qantas also was scheduling extra flights to bring people home.
Earlier the government had said all flights to the island had been suspended.
Although Indonesia has been wracked by ethnic and religious violence since the
overthrow four years ago of former dictator Suharto (news - web sites), Bali
itself has remained quiet. Saturday'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.
"Bali has always, always been safe. We depend on tourism for our livelihood. Our
name has been smeared by this horrible blast," said Putra, the driver.