Indonesia's Bali bombings, 10 years later

The bombings killed 20 people and injured 129..
By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   Oct. 1, 2015 at 7:00 AM

JAKARTA, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Indonesia marks anniversaries of a number of Islamic terrorist bombings on its soil, the latest the 10th anniversary of attacks in Bali on Oct. 1, 2005.

Although overshadowed historically by a 2002 suicide attack that killed 202, the 2005 incident on Bali's tourist beaches killed 20, as well as three suicide bombers, and injured 129. The incidents brought Indonesia, whose population of 255 million is overwhelmingly Muslim, into the orbit of Islamic terrorism, as well as neighboring Australia, which regards the island of Bali as a popular tourist destination. The 2005 attack killed four Australians.

Three bombs were detonated at a food court in the central square of Kuta, and minutes later at two crowded restaurants at the beach resort of Jimbaran, 19 miles away; both are popular tourist destinations. Police later reported other, unexploded bombs were found in Jimbaran, which failed to explode because Bali's mobile telephone network, which could be used to trigger the explosives, was quickly shut down after the first blasts.

The incidents came days before the anniversary of the 2002 bombings.

There were signals an attack by Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida and active in Indonesia and the Philippines, was coming; the 2002 incident heightened Indonesia's efforts to stop terrorism, and tensions were rising, in 2005, to the point that days before, the Indonesian government and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs warned of more bombings. In May 2005, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning to its citizens.

Although JI was never formally blamed for the 2005 bombings, it was regarded as the only group in Indonesia capable of coordinating such an attack. JI was implicated in previous attacks in Indonesia, including those in a Bali nightclub in 2002, in a hotel in 2003 and at the Australian embassy in 2004. Days before the 2005 suicide bombing, a partially-constructed bomb, lacking explosives, was found in a Kuta hotel.

The motive for the incident remains unclear. Australian Prime Minister John Howard suggested it was an attempt to destabilize Indonesia's moderate democratic government; media reports at the time connected the attacks to an increase in Indonesian fuel prices.

The legacy of the 2005 Bali bombings includes a slow rebuilding of Bali's tourist industry and an active "Say No to Terrorism" campaign among Indonesia's Muslims, as well as a realization in Australia that it, too, is part of the global anti-terrorism effort. A 16-hour standoff at a Sydney café in December 2014, in which two hostages were killed, reinforced the awareness.

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