Survivors and relatives of the 202 people killed in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings gathered at the site of the tragedy Wednesday, sharing tears and prayer and vowing to unite against the "terrorism menace" on the attack's third anniversary.
Security was tight across the Indonesian resort island, where just 11 days ago suspected al-Qaida linked militants carried out a second series of attacks on crowded restaurants, killing 23 people, including the three suicide bombers.
Snipers were deployed on buildings and thousands of police were stationed at beaches, resorts and lanes leading to the ceremony at the heart of the island's famous Kuta tourist district.
About 200 people some dressed in T-shirts and flip flops turned out at the site of the nightclub bombings for the early morning service. They gathered around a granite memorial engraved with the names of those who died exactly three years ago.
Among those attending was Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, whose nation lost 88 citizens in the bombings. Four Australians were also among the victims in this month's blasts.
"I know the passing of three years ... does not make gathering here any easier for many of you and our hearts are all the heavier following the heinous attacks of just over a week ago," he said.
But it is important to take a determined stance against terrorists, he said, noting that Australia has been working with Indonesian law enforcement agencies to hunt down the perpetrators of violence.
"Rather than drive us apart, these terrible acts of terror continue to bring our countries and our peoples closer together. Our enduring friendship will be the eventual demise of the terrorism menace."
Bali's image as a tropical paradise was shattered when an Islamic militant walked into Paddy's nightclub on a busy Saturday night, setting off a bomb attached to his vest. Minutes later, a larger car bomb exploded outside the nearby Sari Club. Many of those killed were fleeing the first blast.
Most of the victims were young backpackers, but they also included grandparents, businessmen and rugby players in town for a tournament.
Those attending the service observed 202 seconds of silence in memory of the victims and bowed their heads as an Australian man who lost his son in the attack read out a prayer. They then filed past the memorial, some crying as they laid wreaths or dropped petals in the pond in front of it.
"It is important to keep remembering those we lost," said Australian Natalie Juniardi, whose husband John was killed in the blasts. She was 3Ѕ months pregnant when the attacks occurred, and now cares for that child and the couples' older one alone, reports the AP.