The sadness of Bali is the sadness of the world’

TERROR IN THE REGION AND BEYOND

Balinese and foreigners gather to cleanse the island of last month’s madness, even as officials ask for lifting of travel ban.

Amid rubble and charred vehicles, offerings were made and prayers performed, all part of a cleansing ritual that many hoped would restore Bali’s lost glory as an island of leisure and joy.

Children danced, the kulkul or bells chimed and men in Balinese sarongs chanted to the tune of traditional gamelan music as four high priests sprinkled holy water on a raised dais where the gods and spirits were seated.

Thousands of people, including the grieving relatives of victims, converged on the blast site.

Indonesia marked a national day of prayer with the government asking the country to observe a minute’s silence at noon.

Close to 200 people were killed and several others injured in the blasts on Oct 12.

Coordinating Minister for Welfare Yusuf Kalla, one of the four Cabinet ministers present at the ceremony along with

President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s husband Taufik Kiemas, told reporters: ‘The sadness of Bali is the sadness of the world.

‘Terrorism on Indonesian soil is a clear and present danger.’

Senior officials used the occasion to make a strong pitch to the international community, especially the United States and European countries, to lift a travel ban on Indonesia following the terrorist bombing.

Investment Minister Laksamana Sukardi said that the world was playing into the hands of the terrorists by taking actions that stalled economic recovery in Indonesia.

‘We are not a terrorist country,’ he said on Thursday night at a meeting with foreign journalists here.

‘By implementing a ban on Indonesia, we are only rewarding the terrorists. Their goal is to undermine a legitimate government.’

He made clear too that the only way to restore confidence in Indonesia would not be through any financial stimulus packages – but through the on-going investigation into the bombing.

Mr Taufik, who has been instrumental in advising the President on the government’s anti-terrorism policy, said that investigators were making ‘very good progress’ and that it would only be ‘a matter of weeks’ before the case is solved.

Chief investigator I Made Pastika said that chief suspect Amrozi had shed some light on the team and operations behind the blast.

But more evidence was needed to piece together the puzzle.

Indonesian intelligence officials are now trying to trace the regional and international network behind the bombing.

They believe an Al-Qaeda-linked Yemeni by the name of Syaifulah was one of the masterminds of the bombing.

Known to have been one of the terrorists involved in the tanker blast in Yemen two years ago, he entered Indonesia on a false US passport, sources said.

Another key suspect is a Malaysian called Zubair, who is linked to Amrozi’s elder brother Muklas. Muklas, some believe, worked closely with the regional terrorist network.

Hambali’s right-hand man Imam Samudra, who took part in a spate of church bombings here in 2000 and Syawal, the son-in-law of the former leader of Jemaah Islamiah Abdullah Sungkar, are also on the top of the list.

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