ON October 12, 2002, the lives of 202 were snuffed out by a single act of terrorism that rocked the world.
The lives of 240 others were changed forever when bombs ripped through two popular nightspots in the heart of Kuta, Bali.
Described as the deadliest act of terrorism in Indonesia’s history, the bombings of Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club in Legian Street, claimed the lives of 88 Australians and 38 Indonesian citizens, as well as dozens of other innocent people from other parts of the world who had been enjoying the little bit of paradise that is Bali.
The bombings involved the detonation of three bombs: a backpack device carried by a suicide bomber and a large car bomb, both in the heart of Kuta; while the third was a smaller device detonated outside the United States Consulate in Denpasar, which caused minor damage.
And the bombings were directly targeted in an area the terrorists knew was popular with Australian holidaymakers – the tourist district of Kuta.
Just after 11pm (Indonesian time) on October 12, 2002, a suicide bomber inside Paddy’s Bar detonated a bomb in his backpack. Twenty seconds later, a second, more powerful car bomb inside a van was detonated by another suicide bomber outside the Sari Club across the road.
Members of the Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiyah, were convicted over the bombings, including three who would be later sentenced to death. The attacks were in direct retaliation for the support of the US war on terror and Australia’s role in the liberation of East Timor.
AFL great Jason McCartney became the Australian face of the Bali bombings. The Kangaroos player suffered severe second degree burns to 50 per cent of his body after the initial blast at Paddy’s Bar. Fellow AFL footballer Mick Martyn, who was with McCartney at the time, escaped with relatively minor injuries.
A hero off the football field, as well as on it, McCartney, who initially thought his injuries were minor, set about saving others around him. It was only when he eventually arrived back in Melbourne on a specially chartered flight that he realised his injuries were severe. During one of many operations, the Kangaroos star almost died.
After a long road of recovery that took eight months, a heavily-bandaged McCartney returned to play for the Kangaroos on June 6, 2003, significantly wearing the numbers 88 and 202 on his guernsey. After the game he announced his retirement from AFL football.
The Balinese built a permanent memorial on the site of Paddy’s Bar with the names and countries of the 202 killed. Flanked by the national flags of the victims, the memorial was opened on the second anniversary of the attack.
Just as Bali was returning to some form of normality, the Indonesian holiday isle was rocked by two more blasts.
On October 1, 2005, bombs exploded in Jimbaran Beach Resort and Raja’s Restaurant in Kuta Square, some 30 kilometres away. The attacks claimed the lives of 20 people and injured more than 100 others.
Opinion, page 13