Thailand mourns children, others killed by ex-policeman

“It’s still like it was yesterday”: Indonesia celebrates 20 years of the Bali attacks

JAKARTA: Twenty years after explosions rocked Indonesia’s iconic resort island of Bali, Thiolina Marpaung is still dealing with trauma, adjusting to a changed life as a survivor of the world’s worst attack country’s history.

When on October 12, 2002, militants blew up two nightclubs in Kuta, the island’s tourist hotspot, Marpaung was in a car between the concert halls. She was lucky to survive, unlike 202 others, mostly foreign tourists.

But the impact of the blast shattered the car’s windshield and shards of glass pierced her eyes, leaving a wound that may never heal, despite seven surgeries she has already undergone for the save from blindness.

“Doctors had to insert something into my eyes so I could see again, and since these things require regular checkups, I have to go once every two months,” said Marpaung, now 48. years old, who lives in Bali, to Arab News.

The flashbacks of the attack continue to haunt her – the very smell of smoke triggers them immediately.

“In my head, it immediately comes across as ‘bomb, bomb, bomb,’ so I have to check myself to see if the smoke is from burning garbage,” she said. “Only then can I relax a bit.”

The 2002 explosions were part of a coordinated attack by Jemaah Islamiyah militants, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 23 Britons. At least 209 other people were injured, including Marpaung.

Every year on October 12, she joins other survivors and relatives of victims for prayer. In Bali, a ceremony in their memory was held on Wednesday morning at the main Kuta memorial site.

“We always dedicate every October 12 to praying for peace,” Marpaung said. “I really hope there won’t be an incident like the Bali bombings in this country.”

Among those who died was a 26-year-old British tourist, Edward Waller. For his brother Tom, it is “still like it was yesterday” and a constant reminder of the brevity of life.

“Life is short and you have to seize the opportunity to do the things you want to do before it’s too late,” he told Arab News.

The recklessness of the attack continues to haunt him.

“He seems to have brought only pain and loss to families who have lost loved ones,” he added.

“I think losing my brother to the atrocities has pushed me to get on with my life, to start a family, to keep living my life without fear, to prove to terrorists that they can’t win.”

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