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Bali terrorist blasts kill at least 26

Bloody attacks recall 2002 bombings linked to al Qaeda





Bali (Indonesia)

(CNN) -- Terrorists brought death to Indonesia's Bali paradise for the second time in three years, as blasts killed at least 26 people at two resort spots packed with tourists.

The blasts struck the seaside area of Jimbaran Bay and the bar and shopping hub of Kuta, 30 kilometers (19 miles) away at about 8 p.m. Saturday night (8 a.m. ET).

In addition to the 26 fatalities, hospital officials said 102 people were wounded. One of those who died was a 16-year-old Australian boy, officials said, while South Koreans, Americans, Japanese and Britons were among those wounded.

Earlier, officials said 36 people had died, but on Sunday morning, Sanglah Hospital in Bali -- charged with overseeing the emergency response -- reduced the number of dead to 26.

A hospital emergency room where victims were treated resembled a war zone, journalist Sean Mulcahy told CNN. (Watch chaotic aftermath of Bali blasts -- 1:30)

"The ground is just covered in blood, people walking around with arms missing," said Mulcahy, who, at the time of the blasts, happened to be next door to a restaurant that was hit in the town of Kuta.

The attack came almost exactly three years after terrorists bombed Kuta nightclubs on October 12, 2002 -- killing 202 people.

"People were just starting to build up confidence again, and to have this happen was devastating for the locals. But I think it's the nail in the coffin for people coming to this place," Mulcahy said.

Video of the scene in Kuta showed windows of several upscale stores shattered, glass littering the street, and the awning of Raja's noodle house blown askew.

Maria Bakkalapulo, a journalist who arrived at Kuta about an hour after the blasts, said it appeared a bomb detonated inside Raja's, which "was pretty much gutted."

Hallmarks of terror group

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned Saturday's bombings as an act of terrorism. There were no claims of responsibility.

But terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna told CNN that the attacks had the hallmarks of Jemaah Islamiyah -- a Southeast Asian terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda.

"There is no other group with this level of capability," he said.

The 2002 bombings were blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah.

Four key militants involved in the 2002 attack have been sentenced -- three to death -- while dozens of others have also been convicted.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan joined Yudhoyono in condemning the latest attacks in Bali, as did other world leaders.

The White House issued a statement Saturday offering sympathy to victims, "their families and the people of Bali who have suffered meaningless violence before. We also express our solidarity with the government of Indonesia and convey our readiness to assist in any way."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the Nine television network on Sunday morning that he was horrified and deeply saddened by the attacks, which he characterized as an attempt to undermine democracy in Indonesia.

He said Australia was offering medical evacuation facilities to Indonesia for anybody wounded in the blasts. In a statement, Qantas Airways said it would send a special flight Sunday to bring Australians home.

Kuta and Jimbaran -- the other resort spot targeted -- were "chock-a-block" with tourists celebrating a holiday weekend, Mulcahy said.

It was a school holiday for Australians, and many had traveled to Bali for the weekend, he added.

'Tried to save myself'

In the Jimbaran attack, two explosions tore through a long row of outdoor tables at a beachfront cafe where tourists often gather to watch the sun set, Mulcahy said. The blast sites were about 40 meters apart, he said.

Ketut Suartana, 33, told Reuters he was eating when the first Jimbaran bomb exploded.

"We were eating and suddenly it just went dark," Suartana said from a hospital bed, where he was treated for scratches on his face and chest.

"I tried to run but I kept falling over. Then the second blast happened. People were in panic. I just tried to save myself."

Mulcahy -- who felt the blast while inside a restaurant next to Raja's -- had plans to dine with friends at Jimbaran, but the streets were backed up with heavy traffic so they headed to Kuta, instead.

"Had we gone to Jimbaran, we would more than likely be dead," Mulcahy said.

The attack left tourists filled with "fear and terror," and they are fleeing their hotels in Bali with suitcases in hand, Mulcahy said.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Australia's ABC radio that a 16-year-old Australian boy was among those killed, and there were "grave fears" for two other Australians.

Downer said it appeared most of those killed were Indonesian. He said 17 Australians were among the injured. Local media reports also said several foreigners are among those wounded.

So far 15 bodies had been identified, according to Reuters news agency, quoting hospital officials. It said among the dead were 12 Indonesians, including a six-year-old boy, two Australians and a Japanese national.

The wounded included 17 Australians, six South Koreans, three Americans, three Japanese and one Briton.

Downer said Australia was sending a response team to Bali, and Australian Federal Police were ready to work with their Indonesian colleagues in investigating the attacks.

Warnings of terrorism

Shortly after Saturday's blast, Yudhoyono addressed the nation on state television, expressing his concern and condemning what he called a terrorist attack.

"These were clearly acts of terrorism because the victims were indiscriminately chosen and the targets were public areas. As president and on behalf of the Republic of Indonesia, I strongly condemn these inhuman acts," the leader said.

Yudhoyono said he had received intelligence information in July about terrorist elements in Malaysia and Philippines planning to target Indonesia, and had increased security in Jakarta and Bali as a precaution.

Recently, Yudhoyono issued a warning that terrorist cells inside the country were still active, despite hundreds of arrests.

Several other governments, including the United States, had warned about a high terrorist threat to foreigners in Indonesia ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

A report issued in early September warned that Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may be planning a series of attacks in October, dubbed "The Great Ramadan Offensive."

On Friday the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta reiterated its warning of last May that the threat of terrorism is high and Americans there should be vigilant.

"Attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against any location, including those frequented by foreigners and identifiably American or other western facilities or businesses in Indonesia," the message said.

The island of Bali -- a popular spot for international tourists -- is a Hindu enclave in Indonesia, which has the highest Muslim population of any nation in the world.

The Australian government warned immediately after the Saturday night blasts that the possibility of further explosions could not be ruled out. It urged Australians in Bali to remain in their hotels.

Aside from the 2002 Bali attack, there have been a number of other terrorist incidents in Indonesia in recent years.

The Australian embassy in Jakarta was bombed in September 2004 in an attack that left 10 people dead, while in August 2003, 12 people were killed after a suicide bomber struck the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta. Both attacks were blamed on JI.

Australia and the United States consider Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir to be the spiritual head of JI.

In March this year, Ba'asyir was sentenced to 30 months in jail for involvement in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, but was cleared of all other terror-related charges, including those related to the Marriott Hotel bombing.

CNN's Elaine Quijano and Geoff Hiscock, and journalists John Aglionby and Maria Ressa contributed to this report.

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