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War on Terrorism - 2002-10-24

Australians observed a day of National Mourning on Sunday in memory of the victims of the October 12th terror attacks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Nearly 200 people - more than half of them Australian - were killed when 3 bombs exploded outside a busy nightclub. VOA-TV’s George Dwyer has more on the Bali attack, and on other terror-related news.

Investigators say it is likely that C-4 plastic explosive was used in the Bali bombing, which Indonesian officials are now calling the worst terrorist act in the country's history.

Late last week police arrested Abu Bakar Bashir for questioning in a string of bombings not connected to the Bali attack. Mr. Bashir is a militant Muslim cleric linked to a regional group of militants in Southeast Asia with alleged ties to al-Qaida. He denies any connection to terrorism.

On Sunday church services and memorial ceremonies were held across Australia. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the fight against terrorism must continue in the name of those who died.

"Let us remember the people for their love of life and what they gave to others and to their country. Let us resolve to find those who committed this fowl deed and bring them to justice.”

Mr. Howard said the Bali bombings were part of a worldwide terrorist operation which Australia can not combat on its own, and he pledged his government's support for the U.S.-led war on terror. Australia and Indonesia have also agreed to form a joint task force to speed up the investigation, and the Australian government has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible.

In other developments, Indonesia is preparing to enact an emergency decree to give authorities broad new powers to crack down on suspected terrorists. The move is designed to bypass parliament, which has been bogged down in debate over anti-terrorism legislation.

In addition to the loss of life, many Balinese are now worried about how they are going to make a living. Officials say 90 percent of all Balinese depend on tourism to survive, and the industry brings in $2 billion a year. But since the bombing, tourists are staying away and early estimates suggest that hotel bookings have dropped by 70 percent.

In other terror-related news this week: a Moroccan man charged with helping the September 11th planners has gone on trial in Germany. He faces life in prison if found guilty.

In Buffalo, New York, six U-S citizens face arraignment on charges of running a terror cell linked to Al Qaida.

And, in the Philippines, authorities are on high alert after a series of bombings in the capital, Manila. Also this week Philippine President Gloria Arroyo announced the arrest of five members of a Muslim rebel group suspected of involvement in at least three bombings earlier this month in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga.