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Indonesian Authorites Say al-Qaida Network Involved in Bombing - 2002-10-14


Indonesia has accused the al-Qaida terrorist network of involvement in the deadly bombing on the resort island of Bali that has left nearly 200 people dead. This is the first time the government has so directly acknowledged the terrorist group is operating in Indonesia.

Indonesia's Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said authorities are certain that al-Qaida is in Indonesia and worked with local terrorist groups to carry out Saturday's bombing.

Mr. Djalil's comment marks the first time a cabinet minister has placed blame for the deadly bombing in Bali, and acknowledged that al-Qaida linked groups operate in Indonesia.

The U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia has said that Washington suspected Jemaah Islamiah, an al-Qaida linked group, was behind the attack. JI, as the group is known, wants to create a pan-Islamic state across Southeast Asia.

The group's alleged chief, Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, denies having anything to do with the bombing.

Indonesian police say they have begun questioning individuals who may have information about the blast that tore through a crowded tourist area in Bali's Kuta Beach.

Police Lt. Colonel Yatim Suyatmo will not say how many people are being questioned, but made clear they are not considered suspects. He said special investigation teams, made up of intelligence officers and investigators, are pursuing the inquiry into who committed the bombing.

The colonel said Indonesian police have ultimate authority in the probe, but Australian Federal Police and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation will be providing technical advice on analyzing material and evidence gathered at the bombing site.

Meanwhile, floral tributes and banners have begun to appear in Kuta Beach. Flags in all Indonesian government buildings are at half staff.