BALI, Indonesia – A Bali police officer said Thursday the terrorist attack on one tourist beach resort over the weekend could have been prevented if cafe owners there had heeded a warning to tighten security issued one month before the homicide bombings.
The officer, Capt. D. Dharmada, told The Associated Press that Indonesian police had alerted the cafe owners on the popular Jimbaran Bay (search) beach resort that their businesses could be terrorist targets. Police advised the owners to station guards outside the 19 cafes there and check bags and all cars entering the crowded, chaotic area.
The officer said the warning came after authorities found a partially made bomb at a hotel on the Indonesia resort island visited by about 400,000 tourists each month.
"If those measures had been implemented, this attack probably wouldn't have happened," Dharmada said. "I'm disappointed. Security is very important and the loss here is so big. It's a big sacrifice."
In the Saturday night attacks, three homicide bombers killed 14 people in two crowded cafes on Jimbaran beach and five others at a restaurant in another tourist area, Kuta, about 18 miles away. More than 100 people were injured in the attacks.
Police said Thursday they have taken DNA samples from several family members of the suspected bombers in an effort to identify the three.
Dharmada said Jimbaran village leaders had supported the plan to boost security, but asked that it be delayed until after a religious festival Galungan that fell on Wednesday — four days after the bombings.
Nyoman Soka, chief of the village that includes the beachfront cafes, acknowledged attending a meeting between police and local leaders but insisted there was no firm security proposal made ahead of bombings. Still, he said cafe owners would bolster security — adding guards, a gate and a security post — before or soon after they reopen.
"Obviously, I feel responsible," Soka said. "After this bombing, the first thing we plan to do is implement this security plan."
Pande Wayan, whose wife Wayan Ani worked at a cafe near the blast and remains in hospital with shrapnel in her neck and back, said he was angry and disappointed over the failure to improve security.
"We've discussed this security for a long time. The village was too slow in responding," said Pande, who works at the same cafe.
Indonesia has been hit by four deadly terror attacks on Western targets in as many years.
The Al Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group is suspected in the latest blasts. The group was also blamed for the nightclub bombings on Bali (search) in 2002 that killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.
Authorities say they are hunting for Malaysian fugitives Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top — believed to be key Jemaaah Islamiyah leaders — in connection with the attacks. They are also searching for at least three other people involved in planning and carrying out the coordinated blasts.
Jemaah Islamiyah was also blamed for the August 2003 and September 2004 blasts at the J.W. Marriott hotel and the Australian Embassy (search), both in Jakarta that killed a total of 22 people.
Police have circulated nationwide photographs of the three bombers' severed heads, recovered from the sites of the attacks.
Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Sunarko Danu Artanto confirmed a report in the Java Post newspaper that officers had taken blood samples from several people in east Java province believed to be related to the three bombers.
"I cannot mention their names, but the police have done that," Sunarko told reporters.
Indonesia widened its search for suspects in the triple suicide attacks.
"All regional police chiefs are investigating suspicious activities in their areas," said police spokesman Maj. Gen. Ariyanto Budiharjo. "The suicide bombers did not work alone. Someone must have ordered them. Someone must have made the explosives."
Police completed forensic investigations at the three bombing sites Thursday and reopened them to the public.
Meanwhile, investigators across the country were interrogating jailed terror convicts in hopes they can identify the bombers, said Bali police chief Maj. Gen. I Made Mangku Pastika.