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Indonesia to Free Bali Bomber as Muslims Celebrate Eid al-Fitr


Indonesian officials say they will release at least two Islamic militants in jail for involvement in the 2002 terrorist bombings on the resort island of Bali, to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

As Indonesians prepare to celebrate the holiday, Eid al-Fitr, prison officials say they will release at least two Muslim militants on Tuesday, the day most people will celebrate the end of the holy month.

Jakarta traditionally reduces prison sentences on holidays for prisoners who show good conduct.

Indonesia has suffered a series of bombings blamed on the al Qaida-linked regional terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah. The government has arrested and jailed more than 300 Muslim militants, in an effort to combat terrorist attacks during the last four years.

Previous early releases of militants have prompted criticism of Indonesia from Australia and the United States.

This week in Indonesia, a secular nation with the world's largest Muslim population, few people will be thinking about terrorism, however. They will be flocking to the provinces to spend time with their families to mark Eid, also known as Lebaran in Indonesia.

Jaya, a 41-year-old businessman, has been living overseas for more than 20 years. He has just arrived in Jakarta from Bangkok, and is getting ready to take another flight to his hometown of Bengkulu on Sumatra island.

"I already booked a flight to go to Bengkulu on Tuesday and I'm going to give a surprise to my Mom on that day I come for Lebaran, so I'm sure she will be surprised," he said.

On the morning of Eid, Muslims gather together at mosques, fields and other open spaces to pray together.

After morning prayers, when Muslims are supposed to be reborn and pure from the previous month of fasting, the extended family gathers together to eat and celebrate.

In Indonesia, it is also tradition to visit the graves of relatives, and ask forgiveness from family members and friends for any wrongdoing committed during the past year.

Arcis, a single woman who works in Jakarta, will also be traveling to her family home in West Java to celebrate Eid.

"The most important thing for me is seeing my family," she said. "From a religious point of view, well, everyone is there. And we pray together. We go to the mosque together, and then we have our dinner, the whole family, the extended family. So, it feels beautiful."

While most Indonesians will begin Eid celebrations on Tuesday, members of Muhammadiyah, the nation's second largest Muslim organization began celebrations Monday, based on their astronomical calculations of the changing moon.

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