TENGGULUN, Indonesia (Reuters) - Three Indonesian militants executed on Sunday for the 2002 Bali bombings were buried by their families at ceremonies attended by thousands of supporters shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).
Some analysts had warned of a hardline backlash but the funerals went off relatively peacefully, despite some scuffles with police and reporters.
The three men from the militant group Jemaah Islamiah — Imam Samudra, 38, Mukhlas, 48, and Amrozi, 46 — were executed by firing squad on Nusakambangan island in central Java shortly after midnight, the attorney-general’s office said.
The two explosions on Bali’s Kuta strip on October 12, 2002 killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians.
“People need to be vigilant and there’s a possibility of someone responding to the appeal of the three dead men but I don’t think people should believe that there will automatically be some active terrorism,” Sidney Jones, a security expert from the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said.
In an interview with Reuters last year, the militants said their only regret was that some Muslims were killed.
Emotions ran high as thousands of people poured onto the streets for the funerals after the bodies were flown by helicopter to their home towns — brothers Mukhlas and Amrozi to Tenggulun in East Java, and Samudra to Serang in West Java.
About 3,000 people gathered when Samudra’s body, covered in a black shroud with Islamic inscriptions, was carried to a mosque. Some jostled to touch the body or help carry the bier.
In Tenggulun, thousands of militant Islamists from various groups had gathered, shadowed by armed police.
People chanted “Goodbye Syuhada (heroes)” and “Allahu akbar” as the bodies of Mukhlas and Amrozi were taken from the mosque to an Islamic boarding school where controversial cleric Abu Bakar Bashir led prayers for the brothers.
Bashir, who has been accused of co-founding regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah, was jailed for conspiracy over the Bali bombings, but later cleared of wrongdoing.
Earlier, there were some clashes with the police as authorities tried to prevent the crowd from getting too close to the bodies.
The attorney general’s spokesman said the bombers had asked not to be blindfolded for the execution.
“Only one bullet hit the victims, right on the left chest hitting the heart,” Jasman Pandjaitan told a news conference.
Families of victims in Australia, which is officially opposed the death penalty, had mixed reactions to the executions.
Survivor Erik de Haart, a member of Sydney football club Coogee Dolphins that lost six members in the attack, said the executions meant the bombers could not spread their message.
“Now they can’t encourage any more people,” he told Reuters Television.
The three men had made repeated media appearances on death row, often sounding defiant and calling for more attacks.
Georgia Lysaght, another Australian who lost her 33-year-old brother Scott in the attacks, said the executions would make little difference to how she felt.
“It isn’t going to bring Scott back and it isn’t going to change what happened,” she said.
Indonesia has tightened security due to fears of revenge attacks and Australia immediately issued a travel warning for citizens going to Indonesia.
“We continue to have credible information that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia,” Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told Australian television.
Although there have been no major bomb attacks since 2005, Indonesia is considered still at risk.
Jemaah Islamiah said the Bali attacks were intended to deter foreigners as part of a drive to make Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, part of a larger Islamic caliphate.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said his thoughts were with the families of the victims, whose “lives remain shattered.”
Although new attacks targeting bars and tourist hangouts were possible, Jemaah Islamiah’s network was fractured and sympathy for the bombers was low, an Australian analyst said.
“There will be some people in Indonesian society who regard them as martyrs, but they will be a very small proportion,” said Damien Kingsbury, an associate professor at Deakin University.
About a hundred Balinese, including some survivors, prayed at a memorial near the blast site in Kuta.
The Balinese widow of a security guard killed in the blasts said she hoped the executions would mark some closure.
“Let the past be behind us and I hope there will not be any revenge from their families and supporters,” Wayan Rasmi said.
The body of her husband was never found after the blasts.
Additional reporting by Olivia Rondonuwu and Telly Nathalia in Jakarta, Crack Pallinggi in Cilacap and Luh De Suriyani in Denpasar; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Angus MacSwan