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Indonesian police say could be 10 in Bali bomb group
( 2002-10-31 10:38 ) (7 )

Indonesian police released sketches on Wednesday of possible suspects in the Bali bomb blasts, saying they could be part of a group of as many as ten.

The sketches, eagerly awaited as the world's most populous Muslim nation hunted for bombers who killed at least 184 people, showed three men, whom a police official described as aged 20, 27 and 30. He gave no names.

National Police senior official Prasetyo also told a news conference in Jakarta one of the men was possibly from East Java and another from an unspecified location in Java. East Java is a region of Java, Indonesia's most populous island.

As for the men's possible role in the bombing, Prasetyo told reporters: "They could be executors or the ones who control the executors. But dominantly, they might be executors.

"If they are caught they would be suspects," he said.

The October 12 bombings ripped through a packed nightclub area of Indonesia's prime resort island late at night. Most of those killed were foreigners. Occupancy rates at the resort have since slid to less than five percent, from 70 percent earlier.

At a separate news conference in Bali on Wednesday, Made Mangku Pastika, the head of the joint investigation team looking into the blasts, said, "These three men are part of a bigger group, which may be comprised of six to 10 people.

"We hope the three men are still in Indonesia, particularly in Bali, because criminals usually want to see the results of their work," he added.

The sketches came just a few hours after a bomb was found on the campus of a Christian university in Jakarta. Police defused it before it did any damage.


While naming no individuals or groups as suspects in the Bali blasts, some Indonesian authorities have said the bombings there bore the hallmarks of previous violence in the region linked to Jemaah Islamiah, a militant network that regional and Western intelligence agencies has ties to al Qaeda.

They say it has planned and in some cases carried out attacks against Western and other targets throughout Southeast Asia.

There has been speculation Hambali, a Jemaah Islamiah leader from Indonesia still at large, planned the Bali attack, but Pastika said: "Before we catch them, we can't tell the link between them with Hambali or anybody else."

Police are holding another alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiah, militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, at a Jakarta hospital.

They are waiting for Bashir to fully recover from heart and respiratory problems before questioning him over a series of Christian church bombings and an alleged plot to kill Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Police have not tied Bashir to the Bali blasts, and he denies any wrongdoing as well as any connection with Jemaah Islamiah.

The Bali bombings and other security concerns have triggered warnings from the United States, Britain and Australia to nationals resident in Indonesia to consider leaving and to would-be tourists that they are at risk.

Occupancy rates at some hotels on Bali have plunged to below five percent since the blasts, tourism officials said on Wednesday. Prior to the devastating attack, rates had averaged about 70 percent.

"It has never happened in Bali. This is extraordinary. The occupancy rate of some hotels has reached (between) 2-5 percent," Yanti Sukamdani, the chairman of Indonesia's Hotel and Restaurant Association, told Reuters.

Bali has about 800 hotels and was the destination of 1.5 million foreign tourists last year, the biggest single contributor to Indonesia's tourist income of some $5.75 billion.



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