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Bali Bombers Tied to Jamaah Islamiyah

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

Indonesian authorities have raised the alert level for the country's capital following yesterday terrorist bombings on the island of Bali. Officals say three suicide bombers carried out the coordinated attacks which killed 26 people and wounded more than a hundred others. No one has claimed responsibility, but the authorities say the bombers were likely working for Jemaah Islamiyah, a group linked to al-Qaeda. NPR's Michael Sullivan went to Bali to the scene of the bombings and filed this report.

(Soundbite of ocean water splashing)

MICHAEL SULLIVAN reporting:

Jimbaran Beach is one of the island's prettiest, and on a normal Sunday afternoon, its white sand, bright sun and sparkling surf would draw a good crowd. But Jimbaran Beach was largely deserted today, empty except for the wooden tables and chairs set out the night before. The al fresco dining areas were small, beachfront restaurants that draw tourists from nearby luxury hotels. Last night, two of those restaurants also drew two suicide bombers. Yellow police tape now rings the eateries and much of the beachfront, too, while forensics teams search for clues that might help them identify the bombers.

(Soundbite of investigation)

SULLIVAN: A few dozen curious Balinese and a smattering of foreigners gathered behind the yellow tape to watch the police teams work. And at a small food stall, the owner, a woman named Yani(ph), fed the officers and worried what would happen next.

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken)

SULLIVAN: `Business is good,' she said, laughing darkly. `There are all these policemen who need to be taken care of and all these other people,' she said, `who've come to see what's going on. But it won't last.' `After two or three days,' she said, `the police will be gone and probably the tourists, too.' She has reason to fear. Foreigners shunned the island after the October 2002 attacks here that killed more than 200 people. This year, things were just starting to return to normal.

(Soundbite of motor)

SULLIVAN: A larger crowd gathered a few miles down the road, behind the yellow tape, in the crowded shopping and entertainment district of Kuta near the Raja restaurant(ph), where the third suicide bomber carried out his mission. Hadi(ph), a local businessman, was in an Internet cafe just a few doors down from the restaurant.

HADI: (Foreign language spoken)

SULLIVAN: `I saw smoke, and then I saw people running away, bleeding,' he said. `But the explosion didn't seem that big, so I started running to help those inside. And then I realized it was a bomb,' he said, `so I just started screaming at everyone inside to get out. I was afraid there might be another.'

Australian tourist Norel Rocha(ph) was here back in October 2002 for the last bombings, which killed 88 Australians. She was two doors down from the Raja last night.

Ms. NOREL ROCHA: Everyone just started running, so--my friend had two kids, so he picked up the kids, and we just started running. And we came outside, and we didn't know which way to go, and we saw just smoke everywhere.

SULLIVAN: Rocha has been here six times since the October 2002 attacks, and this one, she said, won't make her stop coming either. Many Balinese hope others feel the same way. Eighty percent of the island's population depends on tourism for a living, but Bali's International Airport was crowded today with people cutting short their vacations. Several airlines are scheduling additional flights out.

Michael Sullivan, NPR News, Bali. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michael Sullivan is NPR's Senior Asia Correspondent. He moved to Hanoi to open NPR's Southeast Asia Bureau in 2003. Before that, he spent six years as NPR's South Asia correspondent based in but seldom seen in New Delhi.