A decade after the bombs, Bali remains vigilant

A decade after the 2002 bombing, Bali continues to be vigilant of terrorist threats as more tourists and migrants flock to the island of gods.

Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika on Wednesday told a reporter that despite Bali’s full economic and security recovery in the decade since the first bombing in 2002 and seven years since the second bombing in 2005, security, intelligence and the local community are continually on alert for possible terrorist threats.

“We have to be very, very cautious, all the time,” he said. Pastika said that the people of Bali realize that terrorists are “living around us” and that the Balinese have accepted this as something that the community has to deal with as part of their lives. The security [officers] and the people must carry out preventative and pre-emptive measures “to clean our society,”

“That’s the only thing we can do, you know? Bali is a destination for everybody. We cannot check everybody who wants to come to Bali. There are a lot of entry points into Bali. They can come and go anytime – this is the tourist area. That is the biggest problem,” Pastika said.

Bali tourism has continued to grow in the last years. More than 2.8 million visitors came to Bali last year an increase from around 2.5 million visitors in 2010. Economic development on the island has also attracted people outside Bali to live and work in the island. According to the 2010 census out every 1,000 people living in Bali, 28 of them are migrants.

“So I always say, ‘yes, now we are safe’ but I don’t know about tomorrow. Nobody can guarantee that, even the best security officers in the world,” he said.

In March, Indonesia’s anti-terrorist squad Detachment 88 received a tip off that a terrorist group planning to carry out a suicide mission had arrived in Bali. Police killed five suspected terrorist linked to Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), founded by radical cleric Abu Bakar Baasyir, who were believed to be planning to launch an attack in Bali and other areas in the country. The suicide bomb groom reportedly escaped.

Indonesia’s top tourist destination is gearing up for the 10th commemoration of the first Bali bombing. On Oct. 12, 2002, terrorist attacked Sari Club in Jalan Legian, Kuta killing 202 people, 88 of them Australian. Terrorist launched a second attack three years after in Jimbaran and Kuta, which killed 20 people.

This year’s commemorations will be the biggest of all of the ceremonies staged in the last 10 years. The Bali administration also said that this would be the last. “It’s not easy to forget a tragedy so big, but I think we have to forgive and with this forgiving spirit we hold this commemoration,” Pastika, who led the investigation of the first Bali bombing, said.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former Prime Minister John Howard is expected to attend the ceremony on Friday at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park in Jimbaran. Around 4,000 people are expected to attend, including around 800 Australians who are families of the victims of the bombing.

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Wed, October 10 2012

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