KUTA BEACH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Indonesia”s military will join a nationwide hunt for those behind the weekend suicide bombings in Bali, a senior officer said on Thursday, as police confirmed three more Australians were among the dead.
Hundreds of thousands of police have already been mobilized to track down the masterminds of the attacks on three packed restaurants on the resort island. The three young bombers killed themselves and 19 others on Saturday night, and 146 were wounded.
The prime targets in the manhunt are Malaysian Islamic militants, Azahari bin Husin and Noordin M. Top.
Officials say they are the leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah network, blamed for a series of earlier attacks in Indonesia, including one in Bali three years ago which killed 202 people.
"In this case we will coordinate with Indonesian police by sharing intelligence information (and) are instructed to re-activate the territorial command," Indonesia military spokesman Achmad Yani Basuki said.
"Our personnel will be placed in villages to gain information from common people. We call on the people to share with us any information," he added.
The concept of a military territorial command structure reaching down to the village level is controversial.
During the decades-long rule of autocrat president Suharto, which ended in 1998, it was seen as a tool for enforcing his iron-fisted control.
But Indonesia military commander General Endriartono Sutarto has said abuse will not happen this time.
The move came after President Bambang Susilo Yudhohoyono, himself a former general, said in a speech on Wednesday that he had asked for help from the military in the anti-terror fight.
FOUR AUSTRALIANS AMONG DEAD
Police say they have questioned at least 94 people about the attacks but have thus far named no suspects.
He said police were intensifying their search outside Bali for people involved in the bombing, including in Banten province west of Jakarta, where five people connected to the 2002 Bali blasts have been sought for questioning.
Artanto said forensics experts had confirmed the identities of three more Australians killed in Bali, bringing the total from that country who were killed to four.
An Australian embassy spokesperson in Bali declined comment.
Indonesia has been fighting violent extremists with mixed success since the first Bali bombings in 2002. Despite numerous arrests and convictions in that case, a car bomb hit a luxury hotel in Jakarta in 2003, and another exploded outside the Australian embassy in 2004.
Despite the latest attacks tourists continued to arrive in Indonesia”s most popular destination for foreigners.
"I have been here for one day, I have been loving it. And I want to support the people here," said Christian Herold, 23, a tourist from Dresden, Germany, who plans to stay on the island for 10 days.
The first attack in 2002 devastated the tourist trade in Bali, but it had picked up steam in the last year and experts think the latest bombings will have less effect on the island, which lies 960 km (600 miles) east of Jakarta.