Three bomb blasts ripped through restaurants on the resort island of Bali during the dinner rush Saturday night, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 100 others, officials said.
Two of the nearly simultaneous attacks, which some investigators blamed on a group linked to al Qaeda, targeted a long row of popular seafood eateries along the white sand beach of Jimbaran.
A third explosion rocked the main tourist hub of Kuta, nearly 20 miles away, blowing out the second floor of a steakhouse and bar popular with foreigners, overturning furniture and spattering the floor with blood. The blast shattered the window of an adjacent clothing store in a crowded market of surfer shops, film processing outlets and boutiques peddling Polo and Versace fashion to a stream of foreign visitors.
"There was one big blast. Boom. There was a flash. There was a lot of flying glass," said Duke Ly, 47, a mechanic from San Francisco, whose family had just ordered steak and French fries at the Raja restaurant when the bomb exploded. "It's terrible. You don't think it would happen."
Though badly shaken, Ly escaped uninjured. But his six-year-old son, Jeremy, suffered gashes to his head and arm.
The blasts marked the return of extremist violence to Bali almost three years after explosions devastated a pair of Kuta nightclubs on another sultry Saturday night, killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Those attacks, on Oct. 12, 2002, were the worst acts of terrorism in the country's history and roused the government out of its denial that Muslim militants with global connections were plotting to make Indonesia a major battlefront.
Since then, Indonesian security forces have moved aggressively against Jemaah Islamiah, a regional network implicated in other terrorist bombings. Dozens of members have been jailed in connection with the nightclub bombings, and four suspected ringleaders have been sentenced to death.
But those intelligence and law enforcement efforts, which have received substantial U.S. and Australian assistance, have failed to stem attacks on Western targets that have come steadily once a year.
Most fatalities appeared to be Indonesian. Sanglah hospital, in Denpasar, the provincial capital, listed 25 dead, including one Japanese, one Australian and two other foreigners with no nationality given. Two Americans were among those wounded.
As dawn broke Sunday over Bali, a largely Hindu outpost in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, investigators were picking through the wreckage while other police held back a small crowd of Indonesians and foreigners. Capt. Sunarta, a member of the local bomb squad, said bits of detonated explosive retrieved from the ground floor of the three-story restaurants were being analyzed at a police laboratory.
Sayid Hasan, a taxi driver in Kuta, said he was furious that terrorist attacks, which devastated Bali's tourism-dependent economy three years ago, had returned to his island.
"Bali has not done anything wrong. Why is Bali always the target?" Hasan asked. "I can't understand how a bomb could happen again in Bali. The security is tight. Police are everywhere. How could they do it?"
Hasan said he initially mistook the 8 p.m. blast in Kuta for an accidental explosion at a nearby power plant. He began to worry when the electricity stayed on. "This is evil," he said. "How come these people keep bombing Bali?"
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who in late August called for heightened vigilance amid concerns that militants were in the final stage of plotting a strike in Indonesia, labeled the bombings acts of indiscriminate terrorism.
"We will hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice," he said in televised remarks. The president dispatched top security officials to Bali and said he would travel there himself Sunday.
Yudhoyono and other top officials said it was too early to assign blame for the attacks. But investigators said they suspected the involvement of Jemaah Islamiah.
In 2003, militants belonging to Jemaah Islamiah detonated a car bomb in front of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta and then carried out a similar attack a year later at the gate of the nearby Australian Embassy. A total of 23 people, mainly Indonesians, died in the two attacks.
The suspected masterminds of those bombings, Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohammed Top, both Malaysians, have eluded an extensive dragnet. Indonesian intelligence officials say they believe the two are still in Indonesia.
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla acknowledged that Jemaah Islamiah remained active in Indonesia but said the group's strength was not known. "We are seeing many terrorist attacks. It means they are networking. They are there, networking in this country," Kalla said in an interview with the BBC.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined other international leaders in condemning the attacks in Jimbaran and Kuta.
"The United States stands with the people and government of Indonesia as they work to bring to justice those responsible for these acts of terrorism. We will continue to work together in our common fight against terror," she said in an e-mailed statement.
In Jimbaran, the explosions struck a row of more than a dozen casual waterfront restaurants, which are popular with both foreign and Indonesian tourists, who choose their own seafood and then eat under the night sky while serenade by strolling musicians playing Western standards. It is now high season and the restaurants are usually packed at dinnertime.
Suartana Katut, 33, who had worked at Menaga Cafe for six years, had just taken an order of lobster and fish for a foreign couple and their young children when a blast of hot air and sand suddenly knocked him to the beach, he recalled from a metal cot in Sanglah hospital.
"I thought my foot had stepped on the bomb because I felt my foot flying," recounted Katut, his face, arms and stocky torso pocked by red wounds, his lower body still wrapped in his waiter's blue-batik sarong. "The first thing I thought of was God. When the bomb hit me, I fell to the ground and I called God's name twice. Then I tried to find some light."
But the outdoor restaurant was dark, he recalled, with no moonlight and no torches. The tabletop candles had tumbled to the beach. The customers, including many visitors from Taiwan, Japan and Korea, were disoriented and screaming.
"They were trying to run away but they couldn't because they couldn't see where they were going," he continued, his dark brown eyes filling with tears.
Two times, Katut struggled to sit up but fell over. Just as he succeeded on the third try, he said a second blast erupted in another cafe several yards down the beach. A fellow waiter, who had escaped injury, hustled Katut onto a motorbike and rushed him to a medical clinic.
Agus Mustofa, a paramedic at Jimbaran Medical Clinic, recounted hearing the blasts about a mile away and thinking it was a car crash. He said he realized it was more serious when a man was brought in with a bloodied head. By 10:30 p.m., he said the clinic had treated 20 people, including eight Koreans and an Australian.
"Everything was in chaos," he said. "They were in shock, holding their heads."
The Graha Asri Hospital morgue near Kuta Square received 11 fatalities: one Korean, one Australian and the rest Indonesian, according to Anto, a paramedic. They sent 23 wounded to Sanglah Hospital and were treating 17 others, he said.
Special correspondent Yayu Yuniar contributed to this report.