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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Australians urged to leave Indonesia
Australian policewoman investigates at the bomb blast site
Australian police are helping the Indonesians
Australia has urged all its citizens still in Indonesia to leave the country, following "disturbing new threats" in the wake of Saturday's bomb carnage in the holiday resort of Bali.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told parliament the new warning of generic terrorist threats was "based on intelligence material we received a number of hours ago".


Our nation has been changed by this event

Australian Prime Minister John Howard
The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, said he was determined to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

"What occurred on Saturday night has shocked our nation to the core," he said at a memorial service for the victims in Bali.

Nearly 200 people died in the car bomb attack on Bali's Sari nightclub, many of them young Australians. Officials say 30 Australians have now been confirmed dead and serious concerns are held for another 89.

Indonesian police are now questioning four Indonesians in connection with the attack, the national police spokesman said on Thursday.

"I would like to clarify that we haven't arrested anyone yet. We were doing intensive questioning of two people but this is now four," Saleh Saaf said.

Tourists in Bali
Australian tourists are being advised to leave Indonesia
Earlier, Indonesian Security Minister Susilo Bambang Sudhoyono suggested that foreign terrorists may have carried out the bombing.

The Indonesian police confirmed on Thursday that members of the al-Qaeda terror network were in the country.

The group has alleged links with a regional organisation which the radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is accused of leading.

Australia and Indonesia have now agreed to set up a joint investigation and intelligence team in the wake of the bombing.

Security alert

"We've been recommending since the Bali atrocity that Australians defer all non-essential travel to Indonesia," Alexander Downer told the Australian parliament on Thursday.


Bali bomb victim Laurie Kerr
  • Victims came from about two dozen countries
  • Australia, Britain and Indonesia suffered the highest number of casualties


  • "We're now recommending that all Australians in Indonesia who are concerned about their security should consider departure."

    Mr Downer also said the threats were serious enough to upgrade Australia's travel advice for other South-East Asian countries - including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos.

    Shortly before he spoke, two bombs ripped through a shopping centre in the southern Philippines, killing at least three people.

    The Australian Government came under sharp criticism this week after admitting it failed to publicise a US intelligence alert that warned of an impending attack on tourist sites in Indonesia, specifically mentioning Bali.

    But before flying to Bali, Mr Howard said: "Did anybody seriously imagine that if we'd had a credible warning of the bombing we wouldn't have moved heaven and earth to stop people going there?"

    There is still speculation as to why Australian nationals appear to have been targeted in Saturday's bombing.

    One suggestion is that militant groups which blame Australia for the loss of Indonesia's former territory, East Timor, were responsible for the attack.

    Identification

    During Thursday's candle-lit memorial service, Mr Howard promised to do whatever it took to find those responsible for the Bali bombing, and work closely with Indonesia to do so.

    The service, held in front of Bali's Australian consulate, was attended mainly by relatives and close friends of the victims.

    Enlarge image
    Enlarge image

    Aerial view of the devastation
    "There are no words I can summon to salve in any way the hurt, suffering and pain being felt by so many of my fellow countrymen and women," Mr Howard said.

    "As the sun sets on this beautiful holiday island, we gather here in sorrow,anguish and disbelief."

    He spoke of the anguish the relatives must be feeling, and the prolonged process of identification.

    There have been reports of serious delays in identifying victims' bodies, and Indonesia has been heavily criticised for its handling of the situation.

    A British woman volunteering at Sanglee Hospital, near the scene of the attack, told BBC News Online she was asked to escort families to morgues to identify remains which were mislabelled or missing from body bags.

    The co-ordinator of the forensic investigation, Julian Slater, has also admitted it may take months for the process to be completed.



     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Clive Myrie
    "A whole country is in mourning"
    The BBC's Michael Peschardt in Sydney
    "In effect the (Australian) government thinks all Australian visitors should leave Indonesia"
    Australian Foreign Office's Julie McDonald
    "We've upgraded our tourist information for nine countries in South East Asia"

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    See also:

    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    16 Oct 02 | UK
    14 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
    15 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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