| Two of the suspected militants, Shaari Mustapha (left) and Nik Abdul Rahman. (Reuters)
Washington/Jakarta, Oct. 16: The United States warned Indonesia that al-Qaida were planning to attack a day before the Bali bombings.
Ralph Boyce, the US ambassador, had given the Indonesian president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, until October 24 to take action on the terrorist organisations within Indonesia or the US would intervene.
The CIA had issued a warning in late September citing Bali as a possible target for terrorist attack. This followed the arrest in June of a known al-Qaida member, Omar al-Faruq.
He was questioned by the US and gave what appeared to by reliable information about attacks that were planned for a “Western tourist site”. The CIA included Bali on their list of possible targets.
Two Indonesian men were formally detained today as suspects in connection with a weekend bombing attack, the national police spokesman said.
Saleh Saaf originally said two men had been detained in connection with blasts on the island of Bali that killed more than 180 people on Saturday night. “Yes, we’re afraid they might run away so they had to be detained,” Saleh Saaf told Reuters. “They have caused difficulties related to the investigation,” he said when asked if they had been declared suspects. He declined to elaborate.
In a later telephone call with Reuters, however, he said: “There is no suspect in Bali, but we have two people as suspects for Manado.” Manado is a city on Sulawesi island, to the north of Bali.
A bomb exploded in the front yard of the Philippines consulate in Manado several hours before the blasts in Bali, causing some damage but no casualties in an attack officials blamed on terrorists.
No group has also claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blasts in Bali, which killed mostly foreign tourists, but on Monday Indonesia for the first time linked Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida network to the explosions.
The blast came from a minivan with C4 plastic explosives packed into the roof, the spokesman said today.
It was the first confirmation from authorities that a car bomb was responsible for Saturday night's explosion outside the Sari nightclub on Kuta Beach.
The spokesman denied a report in the Washington Post that a former Indonesian air force member had confessed to building the bomb. “There hasn’t been any confession from anyone,” Saleh Saaf told Reuters.“It’s only a rumour.” Judging from the size of the crater in the road and the damage to the minivan, he said, investigators had concluded that the explosives were in the roof, not under the vehicle.
Saaf said the C4 type of explosive used in the attack was not made in Indonesia.
He said police had not determined whether the atrocity was the work of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda or of the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiah, which some have said has links to al Qaeda.
Indonesia's defence minister on Monday linked the al Qaeda network to the explosions, and U.S. President George Bush said he also saw the handiwork of the group held responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
At a news conference, Bali Police Chief Budi Setyawan offered no further information on the interrogation of two Indonesians in connection with the blasts. He said only that neither was from the island.
LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard described Islamic extremism as“dangerous and evil” on Wednesday but urged his compatriots to show tolerance towards moderate Muslims in the wake of the Bali bombing.
Australia bore the brunt of the casualties from the car bomb which ripped through a nightclub in the Indonesian island on Saturday night, killing more than 180 people.
Thirty-three Australians have been confirmed dead and 140 are missing, prompting fears of a backlash against Muslims living in Australia.
But Howard said he did not expect that to happen.
”Australians are a very tolerant, open people and I encourage them to remain so,” he told BBC World Television.
”What they're angry about is militant Islam and so are ordinary Muslims, and they should be,” he added.
”I say to the Muslims of Australia, 'You are welcome in this country, and join us in fighting fanaticism and extremism from whatever quarter it comes...'
”Islamic extremism is dangerous and evil.”
Howard said the bombing would not stop Australians from travelling the world.
”We are an outward mobile people, particularly the young, I don't think it will stop them travelling,” he said.“It is going to affect our psyche but it's not going to make us turn inwards or make us less tolerant.”
The Prime Minister denied reports Australia and the United States had ignored warnings about the Bali bomb.
”There was nothing that could be regarded in any way as specific to this bombing or specific to a bombing in Bali,” he said.
”Of course for a long time there had been general warnings about various terrorist attacks in various parts of Indonesia but that had been, as it were, public knowledge for a long time.”
Indonesia is preparing to enact emergency anti-terror measures in the wake of the bombing, its most decisive move yet to crack down on militant Islamic groups.
Investigators, who say the bomb was caused by C4 plastic explosives packed into the roof of a minivan, have formally detained two Indonesian men in connection with the blast.