2 Nov 2008

Bali on high alert ahead of bombers' executions

9:53 pm on 2 November 2008

The Indonesian island of Bali is on high alert for revenge attacks as the Bali bombers' executions loom.

Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra are to be killed by firing squad after being convicted for their involvement in the 2002 bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and three New Zealanders.

It is unclear exactly when the three will go before the firing squad, but there is intense speculation it will happen overnight Sunday.

A Bali police spokesperson says police have "increased the security in the main tourists sites like Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua."

She says that police are carrying out checks of cars and motorbikes, and have stepped up security in the ports.

About 3,000 police, including dog handlers, bomb experts and traffic police are involved in the security operation on Bali.

Police are enlisting help from villagers to monitor everyone entering the island from neighbouring Java.

Travel warnings

Tourists from New Zealand and Australia have been asked to reconsider travelling to Indonesia after threats of reprisal attacks if the men are executed.

Police in Indonesia earlier said they have found bombs suspected to have been set up for a retaliatory attack over the execution.

Two bombs were found in Poso, central Sulawesi, in areas popular with migrants from Bali.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the executions could prompt demonstrations and violence and it's advising against all travel to Maluku and central Sulawesi.

It is also advising that there is a high risk to security elsewhere in the country including Jakarta, Bali, Batam and Bintan and it is advising against all tourist and other non-essential travel.

A Ministry spokesperson David Courtney says areas of Indonesia have been considered high risk destinations for some time.

But he says the potential reaction to the executions, which could take place anytime from Saturday, means more danger for tourists.

That's not something the Travel Agents Association's chief executive Paul Yeo thinks will deter many New Zealanders heading to Bali or other islands.

"There's been issues in places like London and New York, of course, but that hasn't deterred large numbers of people visiting those countries," he said.

He says after the nightclub bombings in 2002, the number of New Zealanders holidaying in Bali fell.

But he says with a recent increase in the number of low cost flights from Australia - and more connecting flights from New Zealand - that's likely to change.