This week marks twenty years since the terrorist bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202 people.
The atrocity in Bali is the largest loss of life suffered by Australians in a terrorist attack.
At about 11 p.m. local time on Oct. 12, 2002, three bombs were detonated. Two exploded at popular tourist destinations — the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar — the third in front of the American consulate.
The victims came from more than 20 countries, including Indonesia, Britain, the United States, Brazil, Germany and New Zealand. Australia suffered the largest loss with 88 fatalities.
The attack was carried out by the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah militant organization.
More than 30 people were eventually arrested for their involvement.
The suspected mastermind Hambali — also known as Encep Nurjaman — is being held at the United States facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and has been held since 2006. Three other key conspirators were executed in Indonesia in November 2008.
Almost 200 Australians would later receive formal recognition for their bravery and the help they gave in the aftermath of the bombings.
Ric Smith, who was the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia in 2002, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Monday that the response to the bomb blasts was heroic.
“People dived into the bomb site and recovered people, helped friends out, helped people they did not know out to safety, carried them to the hospitals, carried them to the clinics, took them to the hotel foyers where they could be attended to. They were heroes on the spot, on the day,” he said.
Australia’s minister for foreign affairs Penny Wong said in an August 27 statement that the anniversary of the bombings would “be a difficult day for many in Australia, Indonesia and around the world, and our thoughts are with the survivors, families and loved ones of those killed.”
Senator Wong also praised efforts by Indonesia and Australia to combat the “scourge of violent extremism.”
The Australian government will hold a memorial service at Parliament House in Canberra to mark the anniversary on 12 October.
A commemorative ceremony will also be held on the same day at the Australian Consulate General in Bali, Indonesia.