190 Die, Many Injured in Bali Bomb Blast

October 14, 2002

Local authorities in the town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali have confirmed that at least 190 people died, and more than 300 were injured, when an enormous explosion completely destroyed the Sari Club, a local discotheque, and severely damaged adjacent structures.

The blast, apparently a car bomb, tore through the crowded area near midnight, local time, on Saturday. According to reports from the BBC, hospital officials estimate that at least 75 percent of the dead were foreign tourists, mainly from Australia, but the death toll also included Americans, Britons, New Zealanders, and Germans.

According to the report the country’s police chief, General Da’i Bachtiar, said that, “This is the worst act of terror in Indonesia’s history.” He offered no speculation, however, on whom might have been responsible.

The dead and injured were transferred to hospitals around the island’s capital, Denpasar; many of the bodies, according to the BBC, were too charred to be identified. Australian authorities immediately dispatched several planeloads of medical supplies, and are making preparations to evacuate the most seriously wounded survivors to hospitals in Australia. Two high level officials from the country’s foreign office were due to arrive in Bali today.

While investigators haven’t made any specific evidence public, local officials are calling the bombing a “terrorist act.” The U.S. embassy in Jakarta has issued a series of warnings, based on intelligence reports over the last several weeks, that Americans and westerners were the potential targets for car bombings by militant Islamic groups linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. Authorities in Malaysia and Singapore singled out a local group, the Jemaah Islamiyah, as having its base in Indonesia.

The attack in Bali comes just two days after an explosion ripped through a shopping mall in Finland, killing seven people, and injuring many more. Authorities there have said that the explosion was the work of a young Finnish student, and have discounted any link to global terrorist groups.

Editor’s’ Comment:

Words cannot convey the sheer horror of such senseless loss of human life, nor do they really have much to do with the insurance industry, except in a peripheral way, but when they occur, they affect us all. As John Donne wrote 400 years ago, “Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” The Sept. 11 attacks brought that lesson home to Americans in a way that changed how we look at the world.

We shouldn’t forget, however, that terrorism, especially that which targets innocent civilians, is the weapon of the weak and the cowardly. No civilized person should accept the deluded fanaticism that drives true believers to sanction and commit murderous acts in what they conceive as a noble cause – not al-Qadea, not Timothy McVeigh, not Hamas, not the “Real IRA,” whose actions would have disgusted my Irish ancestors, nor those of any other “militant” group.

If we are to control the barbarism that still lingers within all of us, then we must accept that no justification can ever exist for the random taking of human life. No cause, however ardently one may support it, can excuse such abominable acts. If any idea or political position leads its advocates to commit mass murder, if they cannot openly submit their ideas to reasoned discourse, the ideas they espouse deserve to be buried along with those who support them.

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