Two questioned on Bali bombing

By SUKINO HARISUMARTO   |   Oct. 16, 2002 at 9:49 AM
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JAKARTA, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Investigators said Wednesday the blasts that tore a nightspot and killed more than 180 people on Bali came from C-4 plastic explosives and two locals may be named as suspects in the incident.

Bali police chief Brig. Gen. Budi Setyawan, after revealing that officials had determined the source of the explosion, said two Indonesians from Java were being questioned and they could be named suspects in Saturday night's blasts, which officials said was linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network.

Also Wednesday, Indonesia prepared to enact emergency anti-terrorism measures, a regulation that would give police more power to act against suspects and possibly crack down on militant Islamic groups.

National police spokesman Inspector Gen. Saleh Saaf denied a report in The Washington Post that a former Indonesian force member had confessed to building the bomb.

"The police are currently questioning a former air force officer, who is a bomb specialist. We asked him for information," Saaf told Jakarta-based private radio in an interview, adding that the officer was discharged from military duty three years ago.

He declined to give the officer's status, but said, "He is still under questioning."

Indonesia and Australia, where many of the victims were from, agreed to set up a joint team to capture the Bali bombers. FBI agents and Australian federal detectives have joined the Indonesian police investigation into the explosions in the beach resort of Kuta, a well-known tourist spot in Bali. Officers from Britain's Scotland Yard are expected to join the investigation along with others from Japan and Germany.

The al Qaida network and its local allies have been blamed for the Bali blasts, which left at least 183 people dead and more than 300 others injured, most of them foreigners.

The small blast occurred about 30 minutes before midnight Saturday outside a bar. A few minutes later, a more powerful explosion tore through a crowded disco frequented mainly by Western tourists.

An Indonesian Muslim cleric, Abu Bakar Baasyir, believed to be the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group, which has links to al Qaida, strongly denied accusations he was behind the blast.

"It's an accusation from infidels," Baasyir said.

"Jemaah Islamiyah does not exist here in Indonesia. Jemaah Islamiyah is just a plot developed by the United States to create al Qaida in the Southeast Asia to attract Muslim (militants) and then arrest them," he said, adding the blasts were created by the United States to "discredit Islam and Indonesia."

Last month, Baasyir filed a multimillion dollar defamation suit against U.S.-based Time magazine for an article linking him with al Qaida network.

The Jakarta government has been under pressure from the United States -- as well as neighbors Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines -- to crack down on Jemaah Islamiyah after it was linked to plots to bomb Western targets in the region last year.

Dozens of members of the group were arrested in Singapore and Malaysia after the plots were uncovered, but the Indonesian government declined to take action against Baasyir, who runs a religious school in central Java city of Solo.

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