(Reuters) – A foiled plot by suspected Islamic militants to attack and bomb targets in Bali, including a bar popular with tourists, marks an escalation of the violent threat in Indonesia as authorities race to stay ahead of rapidly evolving armed groups.
Five men were shot dead in police raids on Sunday on the island where nightclub bombings in 2002 killed 202 people – mostly foreign tourists – and forced the world’s largest Muslim country to confront violent Islamist groups on its soil.
Pictures of a villa where some of the men were shot dead, showing pools of blood on the floor of a garden hut, starkly illustrated the return of violence to the mostly Hindu island where militants last launched deadly bomb attacks in 2005.
Ansyaad Mbai, head of Indonesia’s National Counter Terrorism Agency, said the men had plans to bomb targets on the island, including the beach-front “La Vida Loca” bar. Police initially said the suspects were planning armed raids on money changers, jewelers and the bar, partly to raise money for future attacks.
“This group was planning not only armed attacks against those targets but also bombings,” Mbai said.
“At this stage we could not be sure of the scale but high or low, bombs are dangerous, especially in Bali. The impact would be huge,” he added.