Sun, Sep 07, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Bali security on high alert, tourists carry on as bombers’ executions near

AFP , KUTA, INDONESIA

Security forces are on high alert but for tourists to Bali it is business as usual as Indonesia prepares to execute the three Islamists convicted over the 2002 bombings.

Local survivors and foreign visitors are united in their determination not to dwell on that October night when 202 people, mostly tourists including 88 Australians, were killed when bombs ripped through packed bars.

And the overwhelming feeling on this mainly Hindu island of temples, rice paddies and tropical beaches is that the government should not wait another day before executing the bombers by firing squad.

“The execution will deliver a message that the government is serious about upholding the law and that will convince more people to come and visit,” tourist Paul Green from Australia said.

He said the imminent execution of the bombers, possibly next month after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, had not put him off visiting Bali for the first time.

Bombings “could happen in my home town in Australia at any time the terrorists want,” he said.

“So it’s almost pointless to avoid visiting such a beautiful place like Bali. I prefer not to join that kind of emotional roller coaster,” he said.

Tourists ambling around the cafes and souvenir shops of Kuta, Bali’s most famous beach, appeared unaware that the authorities have boosted security across the island as a precaution against reprisal attacks.

Bali police spokesman A.S. Reniban said more intelligence agents and anti-terror squad officers had been deployed to the island. Local fishermen had been asked to report any strange activities offshore, he said.

“We are preparing ourselves for the worst scenario, to detect any revenge attempt if the execution is carried out,” he said.

Uniformed officers are carrying out extra checks at entry points, especially Gilimanuk port, Ubung bus terminal, Ngurah Rai international airport and Padangbai port, he said.

As the secret police agents and fishermen keep a quiet vigil, life on Kuta’s tourist strip appears as relaxed as it was in the hours before the October 12 blasts devastated Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club.

Paddy’s Bar has moved to another address on Legian street and the site it occupied at the time of the attacks is now a clothes shop. Sari Club has never reopened and its old address remains abandoned.

A large memorial engraved with the names of the 202 victims is a permanent reminder of the atrocity, but few tourists seemed to want to remember the carnage of that night or the terror threat that remains.

“Please don’t politicize this heartbreaking incident which has already broken so many hearts and lives,” Thai tourist Pactharin Supitchakul said.

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