Plans to develop 2002 Bali bombing site halted

A controversial project to build a multi-story development at the site of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people has been put on hold following complaints from Australia, which lost dozens of citizens in the attacks.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the five-story building was scheduled for Wednesday, but local officials said it has been postponed to give the property owners and a victims’ association that wants to build a memorial garden on the site the chance to reach an agreement.

“The construction plan has been temporarily halted, next week we will facilitate a meeting between the owner and representatives of Bali Peace Park Association,” head of local tourism agency Made Badra told AFP Wednesday.

Some 88 Australian nationals were among 202 people killed — most of them Western holidaymakers — in the Bali bombings after radical Islamists detonated explosives outside the US consulate and two popular night spots on the Indonesian resort island.

The local investment board granted permission for the developer to build on the site of the destroyed Sari Club, located in the tourist hub Kuta, in December last year.

Badra denied the suspension was caused by intervention from the government or pressure from Australia, claiming the property owners and the victims’ association needed more time to negotiate a price.

Plans to build a five-story building which would include a restaurant, a small business centre and a museum for the bombing victims memorial has angered Australia.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the plan “deeply distressing” and said he would demand the Indonesian government resolve the issue.

Property owner Lila Tania previously said the land had not been used for 17 years, causing her family to suffer financial losses.

Tania said she was willing to sell the property to Bali Peace Park Association if it could offer her a reasonable price.

Australia suffered the highest number of casualties in the explosions, which were the worst peacetime attacks on its citizens.

Local terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was blamed for the bombings in which people from at least 21 countries, including 38 Indonesians, were killed. – AFP

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