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Bali bombers executed, supporters clash with police

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-09

Three men convicted for the 2002 bombings on the island of Bali that killed 202 people were executed by firing squad, prompting hundreds of their supporters to clash with police.

Grief and religious fervour boiled over into calls for revenge here Sunday as two brothers executed for their role in the 2002 Bali attacks were prepared for burial amid tight security.
   
A crowd of about 500 supporters drove police off the road leading to the family home of 47-year-old Amrozi -- dubbed the "smiling assassin" for his disturbing grin -- and Mukhlas, 48, as their bodies arrived.
   
The men had been executed by firing squad along with fellow bomber Imam Samudra shortly after midnight on a prison island off southern Java, claiming to want to die as "martyrs" and having shown no remorse for the attacks.
   
The crowd burst into tears and shouts of "Allahu Akbar!" (God is greater) at the sight of two black crows over the east Java village as the helicopter bearing the bodies landed in a nearby field.
   
"God is great, God is great! God is showing his greatness. I'm so happy," shouted a supporter who sobbed uncontrollably at the sight of the birds.
   
"This is God's grace. The mujahedeen (holy warriors) will fight on!" shouted someone else in the crowd, crying and holding his hands to the sky in religious awe.
   
"Of course they are martyrs. They fought hard in the name of Islam but they died. But dying doesn't mean they lost -- they still won," said one supporter, refusing to give his name.
   
Packed into narrow streets outside the family home, the crowd thronged around ambulances bearing the bodies from the helicopter and jostled with heavily armed paramilitary police.
   
The bodies were eventually delivered to the local mosque for prayers ahead of the burials.
   
In the west Java town of Serang, Imam Samudra was buried quickly after similar scenes as his body was paraded through the streets shrouded in a black cloth bearing a Koranic inscription in Arabic.
   
Members of a radical group headed by hardline cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who was jailed on a conspiracy charge related to the bombings before being released in 2006, pushed people aside to make way for the body.
   
"There'll probably be retaliation. What is clear is that no drop of Muslim blood is free. It has consequences," said Ganna, 26, who travelled 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the capital Jakarta to show his support.
   
The bombers said they launched the attacks against packed nightclubs on the resort island of Bali -- killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists -- to defend Islam from Western aggression and avenge US action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
   
They were members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror group blamed for a series of attacks around the region, part of a "holy war" to create an Islamic caliphate spanning much of Southeast Asia.
   
Most Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam, and head of the country's leading Islamic body, the Indonesian Council of Ulamas, said Sunday the bombers could not be considered "martyrs."
   
"Someone who killed others will not die as martyrs unless they waged a war in the name of religion. They were not fighting for religion," Umar Shihab was quoted as saying by the Detikcom news website.
   
Even as the bombers' radical supporters protested, others quietly agreed their "jihad" was wrong.
   
"If there's a war fighting jihad is good for the religion but don't do it here in Indonesia. Bali isn't a battlefield," said Robi, 30, a neighbour of Samudra.

Date created : 2008-11-08

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