October 1, 2005

Bali bombs aimed at moderate Indonesia leader-Howard

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard
said on Sunday the bombings on the resort island of Bali that
killed 25 people were aimed at undermining the moderate
leadership in Indonesia that is a threat to Islamic extremism.

"President (Susilo Bambang) Yudhoyono represents a threat
to Islamic extremism," Howard told Australian television.

"He is the democratic, moderate face of Islam and he is
somebody therefore that should be supported and helped. The
terrorists know that and they want to undermine him."

Howard said he would talk to Yudhoyono later on Sunday.

Militants launched three coordinated bomb attacks on
crowded restaurants in Bali on Saturday, killing 25 people
including some foreigners and wounding 102.

The nearly simultaneous blasts came nearly three years
after militants linked to al Qaeda bombed two nightclubs in
Bali, killing 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Howard said the number of dead could reach 30.

The Australian government convened an emergency meeting
late on Saturday soon after news of the bombings emerged, said

"I've given instructions that medical evacuation be offered
to anybody who needs medical evacuation irrespective of
nationality," he said.

"Medical evacuation to Australia or to Singapore. That will
be available if the Indonesians want it and deem it necessary."