BALI, Indonesia – Two Americans were among the 188 clubgoers -- many of them foreign tourists -- killed in Bali Saturday night in a double terrorist bombing, the State Department has confirmed to Fox News.
The island paradise was the scene of chaotic exodus after the bombing, possibly linked to Al Qaeda, which wounded more than 300. Three Americans were among the injured.
Many of those killed by the two bombs that tore through a nightclub district on the island were Australians as well as other foreigners from Canada, Britain, Germany, and Sweden.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombings -- the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia's history -- but suspicion turned to Al Qaeda and an affiliated group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which wants to establish a pan-Islamic state across Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. It is accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. and other embassies in Singapore.
"We are interviewing witnesses, but we have no suspects," Kuta police Capt. Muhamad Anwar said Monday morning.
Economic fallout from the attack surfaced early Monday as the country's currency fell about 3 percent to 9,300 to the dollar, with the stock market expected to follow suit.
In Washington, President Bush condemned the attack as "a cowardly act designed to create terror and chaos" and offered U.S. help in finding the perpetrators.
"The world must confront this global menace, terrorism," he said.
The attacks were on the second anniversary of the Al Qaeda-linked attack against USS Cole off Yemen that left 17 sailors dead and took place amid signs of increasing terrorist activity that had led to the closure of U.S. embassies and renewed terror alerts for Americans.
The destruction started when a small homemade bomb exploded outside Paddy's Discotheque in the maze of clubs and bars on Kuta Beach, a popular haunt with young travelers. Shortly afterward, a huge blast from a bomb in a Toyota Kijang, a jeep-like vehicle, 30 yards down the street devastated the crowded Sari Club, a surfers' hangout.
A third, smaller bomb exploded outside the U.S. consular office. No one was injured in that blast.
The second blast ripped into the open-air bar, triggering a massive burst of flames that officials said was caused by the explosion of gas cylinders used for cooking. The explosion collapsed the roof of the flimsy structure, trapping revelers in flaming wreckage. The explosions and fire damaged about 20 buildings and devastated much of the block.
Identification of the dead was slow, since some were burned beyond recognition.
American Amos Libby, 25, felt himself lifted off his feet as he walked by the Sari Club as the bomb detonated.
"All the buildings in the vicinity just collapsed, cars overturned and debris from the buildings fell on them," he said, without giving his hometown. "I have never seen anything so horrible. There were so many people, 18 to 20 year olds, people in pieces all over the street."
New Zealander Lonny McDowell, 25, was at Paddy's when the blast blew chairs and concrete through the bar. He said he saw a man with no legs and another with a cable stuck through his stomach.
"Who knows if this couldn't happen again? I really don't want to go back to Kuta," he said looking for his airline ticket home.
Indonesian National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar called the it "the worst act of terror in Indonesia's history."
President Megawati Sukarnoputri flew to Bali and wept as she toured the wreckage. Asked about a possible link to Al Qaeda, she said: "That will be continuously investigated to that this can be uncovered as soon as possible." She promised to cooperate with other nations to fight terror.
U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce told The Associated Press that it was not possible yet to pin the Bali attack on Al Qaeda, but noted that increasing evidence in recent weeks has confirmed Al Qaeda's presence in Indonesia and reaching out to local extremists.
"In recent weeks, we have been able to put an end to a year of speculation as to whether Al Qaeda might be in Indonesia, or relocating to Indonesia, or using Indonesia as a base of operations, after the fall of Afghanistan," Boyce said.
The United States and Indonesia's neighbors have urged Jakarta for months to pass an anti-terrorism law that has been languishing in the Parliament contending there is a strong Al Qaeda presence here. Without the law, Indonesia says, security forces cannot arrest suspects without clear evidence they have committed a crime.
While its neighbors have arrested scores of militants from Jemaah Islamiyah, Jakarta has done little and denied that it is a haven for terrorists.
"This horrible incident has only made it that much more urgent that they find some way to deal with this problem," Boyce said. "They (Indonesians) are in the middle of doing that."
The U.S. Embassy was considering scaling back staff, though no decision had been taken. Americans were warned on the Embassy Web site to consider leaving the country.
Bush said the United States has offered Indonesia assistance "to help bring these murderers to justice," and a senior White House official said U.S. investigators already were at the scene.
In Denpasar, Bali's main city, the airport was thronged by stunned, mostly young travelers cutting short their vacations and desperate to go home after the most terrifying night of their lives.
Crowds camped out near a McDonald's, working their mobile phones to make hard-to-get airline bookings. Many spent the night on the beach, terrified after the blasts to go near built-up areas.
The Australian air force set up a massive evacuation operation to bring home survivors for medical treatment. The first flight arrived Sunday in the northern city of Darwin, carrying 15 people identified as America, Australian and Canadian.
Australians were shocked by the attacks. Bali is a popular tourist destination, and 20,000 Australians were estimated to be on the island. At least 14 of the dead were Australians.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard vowed to urgently review national security but said that staunch support for the United States in the war on terror would not be affected.
"This is a huge national tragedy for Australia and for Australians," he said.
Howard said the attack appeared to target Australian and other Western travelers.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australian officials didn't know who was behind the bombings, "but the organization we've been very concerned about in Indonesia ... is called Jemaah Islamiyah, and it has certainly been responsible for terrorist attacks over the years."
Several countries have pressed Indonesia to arrest Jemaah Islamiyah's alleged leader, Abu Bakar Bashir. But Indonesia says it has no evidence. Bashir has sympathizers in Megawati's government.
Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said he believed the attacks were probably the work of "a cell of an organization closely affiliated to Al Qaeda."
He mentioned Jemaah Islamiyah as such a group. "What it underlines is that the network of Al Qaeda is still capable of extremely deadly and devastating attacks and has a global reach," he said.
In September, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta closed for six days due to threats linked to Al Qaeda. Other regional U.S. embassies also closed. The Philippines disclosed that Washington feared attacks using truck bombs.
Last month, a grenade exploded in a car near a house belonging to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, killing the man suspected of handling it. The Indonesia government blamed it on a feud between gangs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.