The scourge of militant Islam lashed the Indonesian island of Bali in October 2002, when the violent Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah detonated bombs aimed at causing maximum damage to the island’s all-important tourist industry. A small device went off outside the US Embassy in Bali’s capital city, Denpasar, to make it clear that ‘The Great Satan’ had not been overlooked. In case the point was missed this bomb was packed with human excrement.
The prime target was the tourist hotspot of Kuta, where two suicide bombers wreaked terrible havoc. One carried a backpack bomb into the crowded Paddy’s Pub nightspot and detonated it at 23.05. A few seconds later the second attacker set off a powerful 1,250-kg (2,750-lb) car bomb in a Mitsubishi van outside the nearby Sari Club. The area was densely populated by locals and full of holidaymakers enjoying a night out. Damage to life and property was massive.
The car bomb left a smoking crater 1 m (3 ft) deep and the combined efforts of the murderous pair killed over 200 people and seriously injured around 250 others.
The majority of the victims were – as Jemaah Islamiyah intended – from overseas, with 88 Australians among the 152 foreign nationals who died. The local hospital was ill equipped to deal with the disaster and eventually some of the injured – especially those with horrific bums – had to be airlifted to Australia for treatment. The radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, said to be Jemaah Islamiyah’s spiritual leader, denied that the organization was responsible. Indonesian courts disagreed, subsequently convicting him of conspiracy in connection with the 2002 Bali bombs. Three men convicted of complicity in the attacks were executed by firing squad in 2008. A number of suspects remain at large, and Indonesia is under constant threat of further attacks.
When: October 12 2002
Where: Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Death toll: 202 dead and 240 seriously injured.
You should know: Jemaah Islamiyah was back in 2005, with attacks by suicide bombers at the Jimbaran resort village and Kuta (again) in South Bali. That time they killed 20 people, including five foreigners, and injured 129.