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Indonesia Bali Bombing

October 13, 2007

Tears, flowers mark 5th anniversary
 Teary-eyed relatives and friends of victims of the 2002 Bali bombings held a moment's silence on Friday to honour the 202 people killed in the blasts five years ago.

Scores of people, from countries such as Australia which lost 88 people, Japan and New Zealand placed flowers at Kuta's "ground zero" of the explosions that ripped apart a nightclub strip on the resort island, sparking a deadly inferno.

"This atrocity is now forever a tragic chapter in our nation's story," Australian Prime Minister John Howard said in a statement.

"Yet Australians demonstrated great courage, compassion and charity in the face of horror and adversity immediately after the bombings."

The attack, blamed on the militant Jemaah Islamiyah network linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed the lives of people from 22 countries. Australia, which for years saw Bali as its playground, had the most victims.

Eyes wet with tears, mourners took turns placing bouquets of flowers on the memorial monument at Kuta.

Bali's police chief at the time of the 2002 attacks, I Made Mangku Pastika, was among the mourners.

At the Australian consulate in the Balinese capital Denpasar, around 150 people gathered at a wooden cross memorial built by victims' families, opened in July to allow a space for reflection far from the entertainment bustle.

In Sydney, a service of tributes and a minute's silence was held on a beach in the suburbs.

"I feel a sense of emptiness that I can't have my happiness and success with my parents, they meant the most to me," Candice Buchan said in her tribute in Sydney.

The fifth anniversary follows a decision by the Indonesian Supreme Court in August to reject an appeal by three key bombers against their death sentence.

The men -- who have shown no remorse -- have reportedly decided not to seek clemency from the president, their last hope of avoiding the firing squad.

The bombings shocked the world, but were not the last -- a triple suicide bombing in 2005 in Bali, also blamed on key JI members, killed 20 people.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that Indonesia had been successful in curbing Jemaah Islamiyah since the bombings and he praised other Asian countries for also improving security in the region.

"There has been enormous progress made in Southeast Asia," Downer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, saying Jemaah Islamiyah had been "very much diminished."

Still, survivors and relatives lamented the slow pace of justice for the victims, whose charred or mangled remains took months to identify.

"I, like most Australians, am disappointed at the ongoing injustice," said Australian survivor Patrick Byrne, who branded a reduction in the sentences of some Bali bombers as "hypocrisy running riot."

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