A decade on, Bali set to remember bomb dead

Posted at 10/12/12 7:17 AM

JIMBARAN, Indonesia- Survivors and relatives of the dead will read tributes, poems and lay flowers for the 202 people killed in Bali's nightclub bombings in a 10th anniversary ceremony Friday to be held under tight security on the resort island.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will lead a list of dignitaries at what is set to be an emotionally-charged memorial for the victims of the suicide bombers, among them 88 Australians, 28 Britons and 38 Indonesians.

The ceremony, due to start at 8:00 am (0000 GMT), will be held under the watch of 2,000 police and military personnel, including snipers, who were put on Indonesia's top alert earlier in the week after the emergence of "credible information" of a terror threat to the island -- which was also hit by deadly bombs in 2005.

Authorities Thursday moved to ease fears of an attack with Bali's deputy police chief I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana playing down his earlier warning, saying that "so far, what we can say is that (the threat) is not a significant matter".

Mourners, many who had flown in from Australia, gathered Thursday at a memorial to the dead at the island's nightlife strip of Kuta, which is inscribed with the names of the victims, laying flowers and shedding tears for loved ones.

As darkness fell on the resort a few dozen lit candles were placed in front of the now derelict plot where one of the targeted venues -- the Sari Club -- stood, while two Australian flags decorated with thumbnail pictures of the nation's dead were pinned overhead.

Some expressed fears over attending Friday's ceremony following the terror alert, despite reassurances from security officials.

But others said nothing would deter them from honouring their loved ones.

Carmen Cachia, 72, from Melbourne, who lost her son Anthony in the blasts, joined her husband Charlie in placing a heart-shaped wreath with her son's photo at the memorial, tears streaming down their faces.

"All the memories are coming back. Ten years is a long, long time, but I still can't believe he's gone," she said. "We'll keep coming back every October. This is his place."

The strike against the Sari Club and Paddy's Bar on Kuta on October 12, 2002 by the Al-Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah opened an Asian front in the war on terrorism one year after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

But Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, won praise for its response to the bombings, and was also lauded for its actions after the 2005 attacks that saw a suicide blast kill 20 people on the island.

The resort's fortunes bounced back after a massive slump in tourist numbers following the attacks, while all of the leading Bali perpetrators have either been executed, killed by police or jailed.

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