An apparent attack by suicide bombers who detonated a 200 kilogram explosive device just outside the walls of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta at approximately 10:15 a.m. local time on Thursday, September 9, 2004, has claimed 9 lives and caused over 180 injuries. The explosion resulted in widespread structural damage to the exterior of the Embassy and at least 9 surrounding buildings in the Kuningan commercial district, causing glass from the window panes on nearby buildings to be shattered to a level reaching the 15th floor.
Police authorities are linking the explosion to a similar attack on the nearby Jakarta Marriott Hotel in August of 2003 and the tragic bombing of two Bali nightspots on October 12, 2002. Police and international press reports are also linking the latest bombing to the notorious Jemah Islamiah movement.
Bali Precautions and Reactions
Following the latest attack in Jakarta, here's a brief round up of developments and reactions in Bali, a 1.5 hour flight away from the Indonesian capital and scene of the latest attack:
• The Australian Consulate in Bali closed immediately after the Jakarta bombing to allow the installation of additional vehicle barriers around the consulate's perimeter. According to press reports, a decision has been made to relocate the Bali consulate to a more secure location – a policy in keeping with upgraded security at all official Australian installations worldwide.
• 3,000 officers of the Bali Police force were immediately mobilized in the hours following the Jakarta bombing, providing heightened security control at Bali's airport, seaports, public places, and local tourist attractions.
• Security forces, including dogs from Bali's K-9 corps, and metal and explosive detectors have been deployed at Gilimanuk's crossing point for ferries operating between Java and Bali. Vehicles, vehicle registrations, and personal identity of all people entering Bali are now undergoing careful scrutiny by security officials at the ferry crossing point.
• Security measures have been beefed up for the Wismilak Women's Tennis Association Championships being held at Nusa Dua September 13-19, 2004. Precautionary measures are now in place at the airport, hotels, practice areas and tournaments venues.
• In keeping with the call from the leadership of the Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour & Travel Agents (ASITA) for calm and introspection in the wake of the Jakarta bombing, a mass prayer meeting has been set for Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 3:30 p.m. at the Puja Mandala Complex, a massive center of religious worship shared in common by all the major religious groupings found in Bali.
• Local airlines and officials working at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport have reported no significant rush to leave Bali by visitors in the wake of the Jakarta bombing. Inbound foreign tourists are said to still be averaging nearly 5,000 each day.
• National tourism officials, including the Minister of Culture and Tourism, have voiced confidence in the days following the Jakarta incident that Indonesia will still manage to achieve a targeted 5.1 million foreign tourists nation-wide for 2004.
• The Bali Hotel Association (BHA) has introduced measures, in coordination with the senior managers of its member hotels, tightening security around all hotels in Bali. Additional staffing have been assigned security roles and all vehicles are being stopped, searched and surveyed before allowing to enter into close proximity to BHA hotels.
• Bali Police authorities have appealed to the public to remain calm while at the same time increasing the community's sense of caution and vigilence. Police have asked for the public's help in reporting any suspicious activities, individuals or vehicles seen around Balinese homes or places of employment.
balidiscovery.com expresses its condolences to those who lost friends and family members in the Jakarta attack and its sympathy to the many who suffered injuries in that senseless episode.
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