US Embassy Mum on Bali ‘Warning’

LEGIAN ~ After creating panic around Bali on New Year’s Eve over a posting on its website warning of a possible imminent terrorist attack in Bali during that night of revelry, the US Embassy in Jakarta declined this week to reveal the source of information on the alleged plot.

The warning was still present on the embassy’s website as of Thursday evening, a week after it appeared, sparking foreign media reports that quoted the text: “There is an indication of an attack to Bali tonight.”

The embassy said the Bali Tourism Board had already “widely distributed” the message, which purportedly originated from Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika.

The American warning was later reflected in updated Australian and British government’s travel advisories. The Australian advisory merely repeated standing advice to travellers to be especially alert at Christmas, New Year and Easter.

This week the governor’s office said it issued no such advice. It said it had only customarily instructed that security forces be on alert during the Christmas and New Year period, due to the high number of local and foreign people enjoying the festivities in Bali.

Asked how it obtained the warning, and what steps, if any, it took to attempt to corroborate the information, the US Embassy refused to say.

“We have nothing more to add,” acting information officer Corina Sanders told The Bali Times.

The governor’s office said it hoped there would be better cooperation among various agencies in the future, in order to avoid unnecessary disturbances.

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