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Australian PM: Bali Bombings Are 'Wicked, Cowardly Attack' - 2002-10-13

Governments around the world are condemning the car bombing that killed more than 180 people in Bali and are expressing sympathy for the victims of the attack. Security measures in the region are being intensified.

Condemnation is flooding in from world capitals in Europe and Asia. The United States, the Philippines, and Australia have all labeled the bombing a terrorist attack, although it is not yet clear who is responsible.

Many of the victims are believed to be from Australia, and Prime Minister John Howard was the first world leader to express outrage. "This is a wicked and cowardly attack. Clearly an act of terrorism and can have no justification, and can be roundly condemned not only by Australians, but by people all around the world," Mr. Howard said. Mr. Howard, a supporter of the U.S. led war against terrorism, warns that the deadly blast on the Bali nightclub was a lethal demonstration that Australia is not immune from terror attacks.

The U.S. ambassador to Jakarta issued a statement condemning the blast as a despicable act of terrorism and offering what he called "appropriate assistance" to the Indonesian government to see that those responsible are brought to justice.

A public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said there was no move to evacuate embassy personnel. But the embassy's web site states it is re-evaluating the extent of its presence in Indonesia.

Americans visiting or residing in Indonesia are advised to examine the necessity of their continuing to remain in the country. Other foreign embassies in Indonesia have issued similar warnings.

Indonesian authorities say they are tightening security around vital energy installations and mines, some of which are operated by foreign multinational companies. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri flew to Bali to visit the victims and tour the bomb site. She has promised to punish those responsible.

Indonesia has been under pressure from the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines to take stronger action against suspected terrorists and militant groups. There are concerns that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, may have become a refuge for displaced al-Qaida operatives or those who sympathize with them.

After months of warnings, Indonesia last month acknowledged that al-Qaida may have a limited network in the country.