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Australia, Indonesia Collaborate on Hunt for Terrorists Behind Bali Blast - 2002-10-16

Indonesian investigators have found traces of C-4 plastic explosives at the scene of a deadly bombing in Bali. Australia is forming an investigative team with Indonesia to hunt those responsible for the blast.

Investigators continue to comb through the rubble that once was a popular Bali night spot. Indonesian officials have interrogated dozens of men in connection with the bombing on Saturday, which killed at least 180 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Officials in Australia and Indonesia have pointed the finger at the al-Qaida terror network, and at an Indonesian group, called Jemaah Islamiah. Several governments in Southeast Asia and the United States suspect Jemaah Islamiah's alleged leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, has been involved in previous terrorism plots.

However, on Wednesday Indonesia's Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed doubt about Jemaah Islamiah's presence in his country.

"Many countries in Asia say that Jemaah Islamiah is part of international terrorism. We can not disagree," he said. " But, [we] want [it] to be remembered, to be understood, that Jemaah Islamiah does not exist in Indonesia."

He adds, however, that Abu Bakar Bashir will be arrested if evidence emerges linking the Muslim cleric to criminal acts.

To speed the investigation, the Australian government Wednesday formed a team with Indonesian authorities. The foreign ministers of both countries say investigators sent by Canberra will work closely with Jakarta officials.

Most of the casualties are thought to be Australians, but Balinese, Americans, Brazilians Canadians and others European nationals are also among the victims. More than 200 people were injured when the blast tore apart two night clubs, and about 200 are missing.

In other developments a militant Islamic group in Indonesia, the Laskar Jihad said it was disbanding. The group is known for violence against Christian communities in Indonesia's Maluku Islands. The group's leader denies the decision is linked to the Bali bombings.