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Indonesian police make first Bali blasts arrest - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) -Indonesian police have made their first arrest over this month”s suicide bombings on the resort island of Bali, picking up a man in East Java suspected of links to the attacks, police said on Tuesday.

Three suicide bombers killed 20 people when they strolled into separate restaurants on October 1 and detonated backpacks laden with explosives. Around 150 people were wounded.

&#34This person is strongly suspected of having links with the Bali blasts,&#34 deputy national police spokesman Soenarko Artanto told a news conference on the island.

Artanto said the man, a construction worker identified only by the initials HS, was arrested in the East Java provincial town of Jember on Sunday under the country”s anti-terrorism laws. He was brought to Bali on Monday.

The spokesman declined to comment on reports that the man might have shared a room with one of the bombers, or give other details. East Java lies adjacent to Bali.

The attacks killed 15 Indonesians, four Australians and one Japanese. They came just days before the third anniversary of the 2002 Bali nightclub blasts that killed 202 people, mainly foreign tourists. That anniversary falls on Wednesday.

Police have questioned 230 people over the latest attacks.

Suspicion has fallen on Jemaah Islamiah or a splinter faction of the shadowy network, seen as the regional arm of Osama bin Laden”s al Qaeda and blamed for the 2002 blasts and other attacks on Western targets in Indonesia.

One of the three bombers apparently surveyed his target just hours before the October 1 operation, police said.

Two of the blasts went off along rows of seaside restaurants on Bali”s Jimbaran Beach while the other exploded in a steak bar in the tourist hub of Kuta.

&#34Witnesses saw someone who looked like one of the perpetrators walking near (the Jimbaran target) wearing a black T-shirt and trousers and looking restless,&#34 Commissioner Bambang Kuncoko, a spokesman at the national police headquarters, said.

With the anniversary of the 2002 bombings approaching and in the wake of the latest attacks, ordinary Balinese on the Hindu island are showing growing anger at the impact the violence will again have on their vital tourism industry.

Citing security concerns, police on Tuesday moved three inmates sentenced to death for the 2002 bombings from a prison on Bali to a notorious penal island off Java.

Surrounded by police wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying automatic weapons, death row inmates Imam Samudra, Amrozi and his brother Mukhlas, also known as Ali Gufron, were hustled into armored vehicles outside the Bali jail.

Protesters outside yelled for them to be executed immediately. Their appeals process has almost been exhausted.

&#34Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron have been taken to the Batu prison on Nusakambangan island for security reasons. The prison has exceeded its capacity,&#34 said I Gede Rata, head of the justice department in Bali.

&#34The buildings are run-down, the ground soil is shaky and the security is quite weak.&#34

Some 30 militants have been arrested and tried over the 2002 blasts. Execution in Indonesia is carried out by firing squad.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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