Indonesia remembers Bali bombings victims

Hundreds of people held commemorations to pay homage to 202 people killed in Asia’s biggest terrorist attack that occurred on October 12, 2002.

Updated: Oct 12, 2012, 14:15 PM IST

Bali: A decade after twin bombs killed scores of tourists partying at two nightclubs on Indonesia`s resort island of Bali, survivors and victims` families on Friday braved a fresh terrorism threat to remember those lost to the tragedy.

Security was tight with more than 2,000 police and military, including snipers, deployed to guard the memorial services after reports involving the "certain movement" of terrorists were announced two days earlier, raising the security alert to its highest level.

"The loss is not just giving us grief, it is also giving us the strength to fight terrorism and all other extremist activities," said Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, the former police chief who led the investigations following the attacks.

The 2002 bombing was Asia`s deadliest terror strike, killing 202 people including 88 Australians and seven Americans and injuring more than 240 others partying at the popular Sari Club and Paddy`s Pub in Kuta that Saturday night. The attack was carried out by suicide bombers from the al Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah and kick started a wave of violence that would hit an embassy, hotels and restaurants in the world`s most-populous Muslim-majority nation.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended today`s event along with John Howard, who was Australian premier at the time of the attacks. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa along with other dignitaries also paid their respects.

"On September 11, terrorists attacked the great symbols of American prestige. Here in Bali, they attacked our people and, through them, sought to overwhelm our values," Gillard said. "Here on these bustling streets, they inflicted searing pain and grief that will never end. But even as the debris fell, it was obvious the attack on our sense of ourselves as Australians, as human beings had failed."

Many attending the memorial under sunny skies walked past a row of colour photos covering large black boards, some stopping to touch the faces of the victims they knew. Each victim`s name was read and candles were lit in a pool to represent each of the nations that lost citizens from numerous religions.

Memorial services were also held across Australia to mark the anniversary. In the capital, Canberra, dignitaries and family members of those killed gathered at Parliament House to mourn.

Most of Indonesia`s 210 million Muslims practise a moderate style of Islam that condemns violence, and the government has worked to root out extremists. Terrorist attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes mostly targeting police and anti-terrorism forces.

Data from the National Police show more than 700 militants have been arrested over the past 10 years, including 84 last year.