Bali officer: Restaurants were warned a month ago of a possible attack
BALI, Indonesia – Restaurants on a Bali beach hit by terrorists were warned a month ago that they could be targets following the discovery of a partially made bomb at a nearby hotel, but village leaders delayed plans to bolster security, an official said Thursday.Cafes along Jimbaran Bay were told in August to station guards and to check bags and cars entering the area, but the village decided to wait until after a Hindu holiday celebrated on the resort island Wednesday – four days after the deadly Oct. 1 attacks by three suicide bombers, police Capt. D. Dharmada told The Associated Press.”If those measures had been implemented, this attack probably wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “I’m disappointed. Security is very important and the loss here is so big. It’s a big sacrifice.”Dharmada added that police had stepped up security, but there was a limited number of officers, so hotels and restaurants – including 28 cafes in the area – were told to help out.”We gathered all their security chiefs and briefed them about ways to prepare.”In general, most of the higher-end hotels on the resort island have more extensive security than the beach-front restaurant and cafes.Nyoman Soka, chief of the village that includes the cafes, said he attended a meeting between police and local leaders but insisted there was no firm security proposal made ahead of the bombings.”Obviously, I feel responsible,” he said. After this bombing, the first thing we plan to do is implement this security plan.”Pande Wayan, whose wife, Wayan Ani, worked at a cafe near the blast and remains hospitalized with shrapnel in her neck and back, said he was angry and disappointed over the failure to improve security.”We’ve discussed this security for a long time. The village was too slow in responding,” said Pande, a cook who works at the same cafe and represented the business at the security briefing.Dharmada said the bomb parts were discovered in August at the Kuta Paradiso hotel and that village leaders agreed with a proposal to boost security. But they asked that the plan be delayed until after Galungan, one of the island’s biggest religious festivals, that was celebrated Wednesday.The al-Qaida linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group is suspected in the near-simultaneous attacks bombings on three crowded restaurants – two on Jimbaran beach and another in the nearby tourist area of Kuta – that killed 22 people, including the bombers, and wounded more than 100.Police have announced few breaks in the investigation but said Thursday they have taken DNA samples from several suspected family members of the suicide bombers – whose severed heads were found near the blast sites.Photographs of the bombers’ bruised and swollen faces have been circulated nationwide and police have called on the public to help identify the men.Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Sunarko Danu Artanto said he could not provide any information about those whose DNA was tested, but The Java Pos newspaper said they were from east Java, Bali’s neighboring province.”I cannot mention their names,” he said. “But the police have done that.”Identifying the bombers could help police track down the masterminds of the attacks.Anti-terror officials say Malaysian fugitives Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top – believed to be key Jemaah Islamiyah leaders – are the main suspects.The two have been linked to the nightclub bombings on Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people, most of them foreigners, and the August 2003 and September 2004 blasts at the J.W. Marriott hotel and the Australian Embassy, both in Jakarta, that killed a total of 22.On Thursday, the U.S. State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the mastermind of the 2002 Bali attack. The department said the suspect – identified as a Jemaah Islamiyah member known by the single name Dulmatin – is suspected also in Saturday bombings.Indonesia, meanwhile, widened its search for suspects in the most recent attack.”All regional police chiefs are investigating suspicious activities in their areas,” said police spokesman Maj. Gen. Ariyanto Budiharjo. “The suicide bombers did not work alone. Someone must have ordered them. Someone must have made the explosives.”Police completed forensic investigations at the three bombing sites Thursday and reopened them to the public.Vail, Colorado
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