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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nearly 200 Killed in Bali Bombing

ReutersIndonesian security forces walking past destroyed cars Sunday at the site of the bomb explosion that killed almost 200 people, many of them foreigners, on Bali's Kuta Beach.
BALI, Indonesia -- A massive explosion from a car bomb destroyed a nightclub on the tourist island of Bali, sparking a devastating inferno that killed at least 187 people and wounded more than 300 -- many of them Australians and other foreign tourists.

There was no claim of responsibility, but Saturday night's blast and two earlier explosions nearby came three days after Washington issued a worldwide terror alert. The attack heightened fears that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is a haven for terrorists including al-Qaida operatives.

National police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said Sunday the explosion came from a Toyota Kijang, a jeep-like vehicle, and called it "the worst act of terror in Indonesia's history."

As teams recovered the remains of the dead, Bali's underfunded and understaffed hospitals struggled to treat hundreds of wounded. Blood supplies ran short and scores of patients were being bandaged and flown out, mainly to neighboring Australia.

Germans, Canadians, Britons, Swedes and Indonesians were also among the dead and injured, officials said.

The blast left a large crater at the entrance to the Sari Club, located in the center of Kuta, Bali's biggest tourist area and a maze of clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels and bungalows. It caters to a younger crowd of tourists and surfers.

The building was largely open-sided and crumbled under the force of the explosion.

The blast ignited a huge blaze -- apparently caused by exploding gas cylinders -- that collapsed the flimsy roof, trapping hundreds inside.

The government's crisis center in Bali said 187 people had died and that 309 were hurt, about 90 of them critically. Many survivors had suffered gruesome burns.

Seconds before the main blast, a smaller explosion, which police characterized as a homemade bomb, erupted outside another nightclub about 30 meters away, witnesses and police said.

A third bomb exploded near the island's U.S. consular office, authorities said. There were no casualties. The U.S. Embassy's recreation club in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, was evacuated Sunday after a bomb threat.

World leaders condemned the attack and demanded Indonesia, accused of going soft on extremists, crack down on suspected terrorists within its borders.

U.S. President George W. Bush condemned the bombing as "a cowardly act designed to create terror and chaos" and branded those responsible as terrorists.

Foreign embassies advised their citizens to leave Indonesia. The U.S. Embassy, the target of many terrorist threats recently, said it was considering whether to reduce its presence in Indonesia.

Islamic groups in Indonesia have regularly attacked nightclubs as part of morality campaigns in several cities. Churches, too, have been bombed. But the devastating blast on Bali -- a Hindu-enclave until now largely untouched by years of violence in mainly Muslim Indonesia -- was the first designed to kill foreigners.

President Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose government has been accused by the United States and its neighbors of being slow to respond to the terror threat, flew to Bali and promised to cooperate with the international community in fighting terrorism. "The bombings, once again, should be a warning for all of us that terrorism constitutes a real danger and potential threat to the national security," Megawati said.

Asked about the suspected origins of the bombers or a possible link to al-Qaida: "That will be continuously investigated so that this can be uncovered as soon as possible."

A tearful Megawati later visited the site together with security ministers and top generals.

A security alert was declared across this sprawling country, comprised of 13,000 islands. Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhyono said strategic targets, like liquefied natural gas plants, "will be protected."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard vowed to launch an urgent review of national security. Australia, a staunch Washington ally, has been on a heightened state of alert since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"People should get out of their minds that it can't happen here; it can, and it has happened to our own on our doorstep," Howard said.

Bali police said most of the victims were Australians. Australia's deputy ambassador, Neil Mules, said seven Australians were confirmed dead out of 24 bodies identified by Sunday evening.

In Germany, the Foreign Ministry said that five Germans were badly injured and two slightly. One German resident of Bali was missing.

Australian tourist Rachael Hughes, 18, said she and her boyfriend had just arrived in Kuta Beach when the blast ripped through the nightclub, smashing the window of their hotel room.

"Looking outside ... people are yelling and screaming, they are all going: 'They are all going to die,'" she told Seven Network television. "Standing in the foyer of the Bounty Hotel, people were just walking in, blood dripping off them, burns to their face, skin coming off them."