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182 killed, many hurt in Bali's explosions

By SUKINO HARISUMARTO

JAKARTA, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A series of explosions destroyed packed nightspots on Indonesia's famous tourist island of Bali overnight, killing at least 182 people -- most of them foreigners -- and wounding hundreds of others.

Officials at Bali's main hospital said the death toll could rise as more bodies were expected to arrive.

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No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it is speculated an Indonesian Islamist group with ties to al Qaida may be involved.

"The Government of Indonesia strongly deplored the brutal and shameful bombings in Bali which caused many victims," President Megawati Sukarnoputri said in a brief press conference. She said that according to the latest reports the death toll had reached to 182 and 132 others injured.

But officials at several hospitals in Bali said more than 400 people were suffering either serious or slight wounds.

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Megawati said the government welcomed humanitarian aid offered by the Australian government.

In Washington, President George W. Bush called the incident a "henous act," and extended personal and national condolences to the families of the victims.

"Terrorists have once again targeted innocents, this time in Indonesia," he said. "On behalf of the people of the United States, I condemn this heinous act.

"I offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of all the murder victims from numerous countries and our wish for the swift and complete recovery of those injured in this attack.

"The world must confront this global menace, terrorism," he added. "We must together challenge and defeat the idea that the wanton killing of innocents advances any cause or supports any aspirations. And, we must call this despicable act by its rightful name -- murder."

The emergency immediately overwhelmed the resort island's medical facilities, ill equipped to treat the serious wounds suffered by many of the injured. The morgue was jammed to overflowing with charred bodies and most of them were placed on the floor.

Meanwhile, Putu Putra Wisada, spokesman for the Sanglah's hospital said, most of those killed were foreigners, many of them Australians. Others were American French, German and Canadian.

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The series of explosions went off simultaneously through areas popular with foreign visitors. Two of the blasts totally destroyed a discotheque and a restaurant in Kuta, Bali's well-known tourist spot, while another one went off about 100 yards from the U.S. consular building in downtown Bali's capital of Denpasar, police and eyewitnesses said.

Most of the dead were burned beyond recognitions. Many were missing limbs.

"By early Sunday evening, only 29 out of the 182 bodies could be identified," a Dr. Johannes, who manned the morgue unit at Bali's Sanglah hospital, told United Press International by telephone. "They have been completely charred."

The explosions spurred an exodus of foreigners from the island.

Hundreds of locals and foreign visitors were packed the island's Ngurah Rai airport Sunday. Airlines said all flights out the Bali for the next two days were fully booked. Some airlines were planning extra flights or larger aircraft.

"This is the worst act of terror in Indonesia's history. I'm certain that this is the work of terrorism because the targets are people in a public place," said Gen. Dai Bachtiar, Indonesia's national police chief.

Officials presumed the blasts involved car bombs, saying a parked car had been blown to pieces.

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In Washington, a State Department official said Saturday that the U.S. government was aware of the situation in Bali and that the matter was under investigation. A guard at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington said no staff members were available for comment.

A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said the United States was offering "all appropriate assistance to the government of Indonesia to see that all responsible for this cowardly act faced justice."

In addition to the destruction of the Sari Club, the blasts in Kuta also heavily damaged dozens of cars, shops and homes nearby, police and local residents said.

Indonesian government officials, including Vice President Hamzah Haz, have denied that radicals linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network are active in the country. But authorities in neighboring Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines assert that members of an Islamic militant group, Jemaah Islamiyah, are based in Indonesia. The group allegedly is seeking to establish a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia.

Another explosion, believed to be from a homemade bomb, hit the Philippine consulate general in the North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado, at 7 p.m. local time Saturday. A gate was damaged, but no injuries were reported and the incident may have been unrelated to the Bali explosions.

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"The Indonesian government offers condolences and deep sympathy to the families of the victims ...," said Megawati, who briefly inspected the bomb sign and met with victims in the hospita. he called the bombings "brutal and uncivilized violence, against the religious teaching and moral values," of her country.

She said security authorities are working hard to "capture the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

Top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was deeply concerned and said the explosions were the work of terrorists.

"I hope there is no more comments that the government invents stories about terrorists in Indonesia," Yudhoyono said. "Terrorists are already all around us.

"What happened in Bali hurts the image, not only Bali, but also our country," he said. "That would seriously damage our economy."

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