Tags: AS | Indonesia | Bali | Terror | Warning

U.S. Embassy: Bali Governor Warns of Possible Attack

Thursday, 31 Dec 2009 06:41 AM


The U.S. Embassy warned Thursday of a possible New Year's Eve terrorist attack on Indonesia's Bali island, based on information from the popular resort's governor, but security officials said they were unaware of a threat.

An embassy e-mail to U.S. citizens quoted the governor as saying, "There is an indication of an attack to Bali tonight."

Indonesian police spokesman Col. Gde Sugianyar said the department had no information about a specific threat on Bali and that security was in place to ensure festivities would be safe.

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The embassy said U.S. citizens should monitor local media and be aware of possible threats in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

"While Indonesia's counterterrorism efforts have been ongoing and partly successful, violent elements have demonstrated a willingness and ability to carry out deadly attacks with little or no warning," the e-mail said.

Embassy spokeswoman Corina Sanders said the warning had been widely distributed to restaurants and cafes by the Bali Tourism Board.

But Bali Tourism Board head Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya said he "never issued such a statement or letter regarding the threat of terrorist attacks."

"Our understanding is that it was sent by the governor of Bali, whom we consider an official source," Sanders said, adding that the message had been relayed verbatim because of its potential importance.

The governor could not immediately be reached for comment, but Putu Suardika, a spokesman for Bali's provincial government, said "Until now I have not yet (had) any notification from the governor."

The warning came six months after suicide blasts by a group claiming to be Southeast Asia's arm of al-Qaida killed seven people and injured more than 50 others at the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels in the capital, Jakarta.

Bali has been hit hard by Islamic militants, with more than 220 deaths in suicide bombings in 2002 and 2005 targeting Westerners. Those attacks were carried out at restaurants and clubs frequented by foreigners.

Gov. Mangku Pastika called on people not to panic but to be alert, and gave no details about a specific threat, the embassy statement said.

Indonesia's counterterrorism unit said it had received the warning but could not independently verify its accuracy.

Brig. Gen. Tito Karnavian said the information "still needs to be examined. We are still cross-checking."

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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