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US planned withdrawal of Indonesia staff hours before blast
Ummahnews 13 October 2002
Hours before the powerful blast in Bali island went off, the US had reportedly announced a plan to withdraw its administrative staff from Indonesia for 'security' reasons.
The Washington Post daily newspaper reported that the US government threatened to withdraw all its staff from Indonesia if Indonesian security officials were not serious about revealing the 'terrorist network' considered to be a threat to US citizens’ safety.
Washington has for the past few weeks been urging Jakarta to take action against Muslim groups it claimed were linked to 'terrorist network'.
However, president Megawati's government had come under intense pressure from her own cabinet as well as Muslim leaders, who urged her not to bow down to the US 'bully tactic'.
Their main contention was that Washington had so far failed to provide an iota of evidence linking Muslim groups in the country to so-called 'terrorist' groups.
Yesterday's blast, however, may prove to be just the evidence Washington needed to force Jakarta to come down hard on Muslim civilian groups.
In the past, analysts did not rule out the occurence of deliberate violence across the archipelago to provide a pretext for US intervention.
Meanwhile, Indonesian House of Representatives speaker Akbar Tandjung said that he regrets the US government’s decision.
Tandjung said he considered there was no proof that Indonesia was unsafe and therefore there was no reason for the USA to carry out its plan.
Tandjung regretted the stance taken by the US government as he considered the USA of having received incorrect information about Indonesia.
He went on to say that it was difficult to prove that Indonesia has been used as a terrorist hideout.
"Even if such allegation was proven, Indonesian security forces would be able to settle the matter immediately," said Tandjung.
He also suggested that President Megawati's administration take an immediate stance on the matter and convince foreign countries about the real facts regarding Indonesia.
This way, other countries will not plan to withdraw their representative staff as the USA is threatening to do.
Indonesia blast:Australia pledges stronger backing for US-led 'war on terror'
Ummahnews/Agencies 13 October 2002
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has vowed that his country's support for the US-led 'war on terror' will not weaken despite the blasts in Bali which claimed more than 180 lives, mostly Aussie tourists.
Describing the tragedy as "barbaric, wicked and cowardly", Howard said on all available evidence to his government showed that the bombing was clearly a terrorist attack.
"The indiscriminate, brutal and despicable way in which lives have been taken away on this occasion by an act of barbarity will I know deeply shock all Australians," he said.
"The war against terrorism must go on with unrelenting vigor and an unconditional commitment."
Howard said while the Australian death toll was not known, the nation should prepare for more Australian deaths.
Howard said the government's national security committee will discuss tomorrow plans in place to protect Australian borders from a possible terrorist attack.
But he warned Australia was not immune and was as much a target as any other western country.
"People should get out of their minds that it can't happen here;
it can, and it has happened to our own on our doorstep," Howard told reporters.
75 percent of the people admitted to a Bali hospital with injuries were Australian.
Other nationalities include Swiss, German, Swedish, American, British and Italian.
Indonesia V-P blames Bali blast on weak intelligence, security
Jakarta Post 13 October 2002
Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz partly blamed weak intelligence and poor security measures on Sunday for the overnight blast that killed at least 182 people in the resort island of Bali.
"Our weakness so far has been in intelligence.
Our intelligence should not be NATO -- No Action Talk Only," Hamzah was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.
"Those in charge of security affairs must follow up on any information and detect (any threat) more accurately," he said.
Hamzah said Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ought to explain why the explosion had happened.
"Our weakness lies in the management of politics and security," he said.
The Vice President warned that the bomb attack would scare off investors desperately needed by Indonesia as it was struggling to emerge from an economic crisis.
"We have to establish security in this country, otherwise no investor will come and our country will collapse," he said.
The overnight explosion destroyed two bars in the tourist district of Kuta and triggered an intense blaze that burned for hours.
Haz has warned that allegations by foreign countries that international Islamic terrorists are active in Indonesia could provoke a violent backlash here.
Many in Indonesia also believe that the U.S. has overstated the threats.