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Island Hopping to Australia?

Bali Police and Immigration Officials Seize Group of Middle Eastern and North Asian Immigrants Believed to be Australian-Bound

(6/1/2012) Combined forces from police and immigration raided two non-starred hotels in the Kuta area of Bali on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, arresting tens of foreigners suspected of being illegal immigrants in transit to Australia.

Beritabali.com reports that the two raids took place at the Wisma Bima II and the Hotel Sriwijaya, both hotels located in the Kuta area of Bali.

An unnamed representative of the Bali police said, “The hotels used by the foreigners have been under surveillance for two days.”

As the result of the raids, enforcement officials took foreigners from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan into custody. Several Iranians, initially netted in the sweep, refused arrest insisting that they were, in fact, architects on a holiday visit to Bali.

The remaining people arrested in the raid were brought to the Kuta Police Precinct for further investigations. A formal statement from Bali’s immigration department is pending.

Police also arrested an Indonesian national by the name of “Roni” believed by officials to have organized the reception and arranged the accommodation for the arrested foreigners. Roni, meanwhile, is denying any connection with the group being detained. Roni told the press and the police: “I was only told to meet these people at the airport and find a hotel where they can stay. I don’t know if they are illegal and I have no connection with these people.”

It is widely speculated that those netted in the raids were in Bali organizing the next leg of their journey - the illegal entry into Australia.