BALI— A decade after twin bombs destroyed a holiday in paradise for tourists partying at two jumping nightclubs in Indonesia’s beach resort of Bali, survivors and victims’ families on Friday braved a fresh terrorism threat to remember those lost to the tragedy.
Security was tight with more than 2,000 police and military, including snipers, deployed to guard the memorial services after reports involving the “certain movement” of terrorists were announced two days earlier, raising the security alert to its highest level.
“The loss is not just giving us grief, it is also giving us the strength to fight terrorism and all other extremist activities,” said Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, the former police chief who led the investigations following the attacks.
The 2002 bombing was Asia’s deadliest terror strike, killing 202 people — including 88 Australians and seven Americans — and injuring more than 240 others at the popular Sari Club and Paddy’s Pub in Kuta that sultry Saturday night on Indonesia’s resort island. The attack, carried out by suicide bombers from the al-Qaida-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, kick started a wave of violence in the world’s most-populous Muslim nation hitting an embassy, hotels and restaurants.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended Friday’s event along with John Howard, who was Australian premier at the time of the attacks. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa along with other dignitaries also paid their respects.
“On September 11, terrorists attacked the great symbols of American prestige. Here in Bali, they attacked our people and, through them, sought to overwhelm our values,” Gillard said. “Here on these bustling streets, they inflicted searing pain and grief that will never end. But even as the debris fell, it was obvious the attack on our sense of ourselves — as Australians, as human beings — had failed.”
Many attending the memorial under hot, sunny skies walked past a row of color photos covering large black boards, some stopping to touch the faces of the victims they knew. Others sat in white chairs with their heads bowed as they listened to the speeches encouraging remembrance and healing. Each victim’s name was read and candles were lit in a pool to represent each of the nations that lost citizens from numerous religions.
Memorial services were also held across Australia to mark the anniversary. In the capital, Canberra, dignitaries and family members of those killed gathered at Parliament House to mourn.
Surgeon Fiona Wood, who led a team of Australian doctors that treated victims horribly burned in the attack, spoke of the survivors’ bravery.
“A young woman whose injuries were beyond comprehension. The first thing she said when she came out of her coma was, ‘I’ll never run — will I walk again?'” Wood recalled. “I said, ‘You will walk, you will run, you will race.’ And in 2008, she beat me in an ironman …”
Most of Indonesia’s 210 million Muslims practice a moderate style of Islam that condemns violence, and the government has worked to root out extremists. Terrorist attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes mostly targeting police and anti-terrorism forces.
Data from the National Police shows more than 700 militants have been arrested over the past 10 years, including 84 last year. Dozens more have been killed since the Bali bombings. Though the number of domestic terrorist attacks has risen, suicide bombers are more likely to act alone or in smaller groups than they did in years past.
The Bali attacks received massive international attention due to the number of foreigners killed, but 38 Indonesians also died in the blasts.
Tumini, 37, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, was a bartender getting ready to serve her first customer that night at Paddy’s Pub. Suddenly, she was rocked by the explosion and felt intense pain wracking her body.
She was thrown outside the bar and knocked unconscious. The only thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital with burns covering her face and body.
Today, the mother of three still struggles to understand why she survived when so many others died. She was forced to find lower-paying work and cannot afford the medical care needed to treat her condition.
“I feel my life is still miserable. I am not 100 percent normal,” she said. “I often think and ask why God still allows me to live if I have to endure this pain.”
Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.