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Some Bali Bombers May Have Formed Suicide Pact - 2002-11-27


Police in Australia say some suspects involved in last month's bombing in Bali may have formed a suicide pact. But analysts are skeptical about reports of suicide bombing becoming a trend in Southeast Asia. Australian Police Commissioner Mick Keelty says that up to five people involved in the Bali bomb blasts may have formed a suicide pact.

Authorities say two explosions rocked a street popular with tourists in the October 12 attack. The first was in a bar called Paddy's. The second, much larger blast was caused by a car bomb in front of the Sari Club across the street.

Last week Indonesian police arrested the alleged mastermind of the plot, Imam Samudra. Mr. Keelty says five of the men involved in the plot, including two named Agus and Iqbal, had sworn allegiance to Mr. Samudra. "These five, we believe, were so committed to Samudra that they had in fact formed a suicide pact," he says. "And Agus and three others who have been arrested and who are in fact now in custody now bring a closure to that group because we think it's Iqbal who detonated the blast in Paddy's bar."

Authorities are working to confirm reports that Mr. Iqbal may have died in the blast in Paddy's. "Yesterday in Indonesia we obtained DNA samples from Iqbal's mother and that would be brought here in Canberra," said Mr. Keelty. "And we will process them in Canberra and hopefully positively confirm that it was Iqbal who detonated the bomb in Paddy's Bar." But if the suspects had formed a "suicide pact," it remains unclear whether Mr. Iqbal intended to die as a suicide bomber.

Some security analysts in the Indonesian capital are very skeptical that suicide-bombing was used in the Bali plot, for several reasons. One, Southeast Asia has no history of suicide bombers, which the analysts say usually come from societies much more repressive than Indonesia's. Two, there was almost no security in Bali's tourist district, making it unnecessary for someone to kill himself to set off a bomb. Three, there has so far been no confirmed suicide note or statement from the dead bomber or his group.

Witnesses' accounts of the bombing in Paddy's are conflicting, but some say a man entered and either threw a package or left one on a table, before trying to run away.

One analyst points out that a bomber died in a bungled grenade attack in Jakarta in September, and a third lost his leg in another bombing, linked to Mr. Samudra. Those incidents suggest incompetence, not suicide.

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