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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Jakarta debates terror decree
Australian tourists weep as the leave the site of the blast
Many of the victims were Australian
Indonesia is considering an emergency anti-terrorism decree which would endow police with radical new powers following a devastating car bomb attack on the holiday island of Bali.

  • Victims came from about two dozen countries
  • Australia, Britain and Indonesia suffered the highest number of casualties
  • Most of those injured were foreign tourists

  • It is thought that the decree would allow police to detain people without any evidence of a crime as part of a major crackdown on radical Islamic groups.

    The country is under immense international pressure to find those responsible for Saturday's bomb blast outside a packed nightclub which killed nearly 200 people - mostly young Western travellers.

    US Secretary of State Colin Powell stepped up the pressure on Tuesday, warning the country that it had to act against the groups which Washington believes are linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

    The government of Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has in the past been criticised for failing to take action to combat the threat of terrorism.

    "We can see now that you are not exempt from this, you cannot pretend it does not exist in your country," said Mr Powell. "I hope this will reinforce Indonesian determination to deal with this kind of threat."

    Earlier, Bali police detained for questioning two Indonesian men, saying they had found the identity card of one of them in the vicinity of the blast.

    Indonesian police chief Da'i Bachtiar said his team were currently checking the alibis and "other information" provided by the two detainees, and that nothing had been "finalised".

    Police say they have also found traces of plastic explosive at the bomb scene - suggesting a sophisticated operation.

    Al-Qaeda link?

    Several countries - including Indonesia itself - have pointed to the possible involvement of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, held responsible for the attacks last year on New York and Washington, in Saturday's blast.

    Enlarge image
    Enlarge image

    Aerial view of the devastation

    But the BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta says that President Megawati, leader of the world's most populous Muslim country, cannot appear to be caving in to international pressure for a general crack down on radical Islamic groups.

    If she does go ahead with the emergency decree, our correspondent says, she will have to be absolutely sure that she is targeting the right people.

    Despite the strong words from the US, the foreign minister of Australia - where many of the victims are thought to be from - has said he does not want to get into a game of international criticism of Indonesia over its efforts to deal with terrorism.

    Suspicion has fallen on a radical Islamic group in Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiah.

    The Australian Prime Minister said his country will call on the UN to list Jemaah Islamiah as a terrorist organisation, and on Tuesday UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was considering a ban on the group.

    However, in an interview with the BBC, the group's alleged leader Abu Bakar Bashir denied Jemaah Islamiah or al-Qaeda were to blame for the attack.

    Grisly task

    Efforts are meanwhile continuing in Bali to identify the remains of those caught up in the blast, and officials have appealed for families of victims to provide data to help in the task.

    Only 44 bodies have been positively identified out of a confirmed death toll of at least 181: 20 Australians, eight Britons, six Indonesians, five Singaporeans, and one citizen each from the Netherlands, Ecuador, France, Germany and New Zealand.

    Many of the foreign citizens injured have been airlifted out of Bali - hundreds to Australia alone - and local hospital care is now concentrated on the 100 or so local people badly injured in the attack.

    Wreaths from survivors and their relatives paying tribute to the victims litter the streets around the site of the explosion.

    The BBC's David Loyn reports
    "Megawati leads a sprawling nation of more than 13,000 islands"
    International security expert Dan Plesch
    "What we're looking at is a diverse set of very dangerous groups and individuals"

    Key stories




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