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Suspect Detained in Bali Bombing Investigation Says Attack Targeted Americans - 2002-11-08

Indonesian officials probing the deadly October 12 bombing in Bali say they are pursuing fresh leads based on information provided by the strongest suspect detained so far. Police say the suspect is the owner of the van used in the blast.

Indonesia's top investigator in the Bali bombing says the attackers intended to kill as many Americans as possible in the blast. Speaking at a terrorism conference in the Philippines capital Manila, Police General Made Pastika said a suspect expressed regret that the highest number of casualties appear to be Australian. More than 180 people died when a car bomb was detonated outside the Sari club in Bali's busy Kuta tourist district on October 12. The bar was popular among Australian tourists. The general says his information is based on an interrogation of the suspect, identified by the name Amrozi. Authorities say he is the owner of the Mitsubishi van that was packed with explosives and parked outside the bar. The general says that based on Mr. Amrozi's testimony, authorities now know where the bomb was constructed and authorities are searching the location. He says traces of the chemical used to make the bomb were found there, but would not disclose where the location is. Mr. Amrozi was arrested in East Java earlier in the week and flown to Bali for questioning by international investigators. General Pastika also said Mr. Amrozi has admitted to meeting Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, and terror suspect Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali. The United States and regional governments say Mr. Bashir is the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah or JI, a militant group allegedly linked to al-Qaida, and recently added to the U.S. State Department's terrorist list. Mr. Isamuddin is suspected of being the group's operational leader. Indonesian authorities have not linked Mr. Bashir or JI to the Bali bombing.

General Pastika says that even if Mr. Amrozi had met Mr. Bashir that does not necessarily mean Mr. Bashir is connected to the Bali blast. Mr. Bashir is currently in a police hospital in the Indonesian capital Jakarta where he is undergoing questioning about his alleged involvement in a different terrorist incident. He has consistently denied any links to terrorism. The whereabouts of Mr. Isamuddin are not known.