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Jakarta Bombing: The Sounds of Distant Thunder

Bali Goes on High Alert Following Bombings at Jakarta Hotels.

(7/20/2009) Just before 9 a.m. Bali time on Friday, July 17, 2009, terrorist blasts rocked the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Jakarta and the adjacent Marriott Hotel.

It will be days, and perhaps weeks, before police investigators manage to unravel the mountains of evidence that will eventually expose those responsible for what is widely assumed to be the latest chapter in that ultimate oxymoron a "holy war."

Gruesome facts are already emerging. We now know that 55 people were injured and at least nine died in the blast. Two of those who died are assumed to be suicide bombers who may have been dispatched from an 18th floor guest room, serving as a terrorism command post, before their final rendezvous with mayhem.

Distance from the blasts dictate that the people of Bali followed events in Jakarta via TV broadcasts and other electronic media. And despite an intervening distance of 1.5 hours away by plane, Bali has taken a number of steps related to the Jakarta bombings, including:

Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika, the former Police officer credited with resolving the 2002 and 2003 Bali bombings, immediately convened an emergency coordinating meeting with the Udayana IX Military Command, Bali's provincial police, local prosecutors and Bali-based intelligence agencies.

The island's security status was raise to the highest level of "siaga satu" by the island's Chief of Police, Inspector General T. Ashikin Husein, putting some 12,000 security personal on duty and at the highest state of readiness.

Bali's sea ports and single airport were tightened up with careful checks introduced for both materials and people traveling to the island.

Within minutes of the blasts in Jakarta, the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) told its members to raise their security levels to "red" bringing pre-existing security screens and surveillance procedures to their highest level.

Within hours of the Jakarta attack, members of the BHA met with the Chief of Police to enhance coordination with the security forces. During that meeting, the Chief of Police indicated that no credible threat to Bali's security had been detected at this time, but, in response to the Jakarta attacks, the island was now on "high alert."

Hotel, restaurant and travel agency staff have been briefed by their respective stakeholder organizations to remain calm and focus on the comfort and safety of island visitors, avoiding speculation and rumors in connection with the Jakarta attacks.

A check of several hotels and the Bali airport do not provide proof of any mass exodus of visitors following the Jakarta bombings.

The Governor's office has issued written instructions to mayors and regency heads, ordering heightened security measures and complete cooperation with the police in introducing security checks in every district of the province.

The regional administration is moving "full ahead" with plans to enhance security measures by a self-imposed August deadlines that will see 33 emergency service units distributed across the island, the installation of 1,000 closed circuit TV and the operation of a crisis center charged with crisis management for Bali.