In a spontaneous show of solidarity for Indonesia, governments around the globe offered help to overcome Saturday night’s tragedy, the latest in a series of attacks in the world’s most populous Muslim country in the past three years.
Australia offered medical and police aid, Britain sent an emergency assistance team, and the United States and New Zealand pledged to help catch the attackers in the three almost simultaneous blasts that killed at least 25 people and injured more than 100.
No one claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, which officials say was behind the 12 October 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people.
Indonesian police said the masterminds are suspected to be Malaysians Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top.
“These people may be Malaysian by citizenship but they are not with us”
Syed Hamid Albar,
The two men fled to Indonesia after a Malaysian crackdown on suspected Islamic militants after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US. They have been on the run since.
“These people may be Malaysian by citizenship but they are not with us,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said. “If they were in Malaysia we could have taken some action.
“I hope they (Indonesians) are successful in investigating and catching these two men,” Syed Hamid said. “If these people are responsible, everyone would like to see them apprehended.
“The Indonesian government has been chasing them. It is a question of apprehending them.
“It is very sad. Bali is such a beautiful place,” he added.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard also condemned the bombings as “an indiscriminate murderous attack”.
“I see it very much as part of an ongoing attempt by terrorists to undermine democratic Indonesia,” he said.
One 16-year-old Australian was killed in the blast and two others were hurt.
Howard said his government would provide medical evacuation to Australia or Singapore for those injured in the blasts, “irrespective of their nationality”.
Australia was prepared to send investigative and police support as soon as possible, he added.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose government has been fighting Islamic rebels in the country’s south, said the attacks showed the resilience of the attackers to strike “when our guard is down”.
Arroyo has called for vigilance
“We have limited the movements of terrorist cells and kept them on the run. But the price of freedom is perpetual vigilance,” she said.
Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said the attack was “a reminder that although weakened, terrorist groups remain a threat to our societies”.
Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have arrested scores of Jemaah Islamiyah suspects in recent years, many of whom have been jailed without trial.
Japan‘s government, which confirmed the death of a 51-year-old Japanese vacationer in Bali, condemned the attacks as “abominable”.
In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “The British government stands ready to help in any way we can.”
Tony Blair says Britain is ready to
Britain‘s ambassador in Indonesia, Charles Humfrey, would be sent to Bali along with an “emergency deployment team” based in Hong Kong.
White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said the US government was ready “to assist in any way”.
“The United States stands with the people and government of Indonesia as they work to bring to justice those responsible for these acts of terrorism,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.