Survivors and relatives and friends of the victims of the 2002 Bali bombings gathered Wednesday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Indonesia's deadliest terrorist attack.
A ceremony with the theme "Forgiving is beautifying" was held near a memorial in the Kuta resort area, with hundreds of people from many countries attending.
Flowers and wreaths were laid, candles were lit, and messages of peace were placed at the memorial at the beach resort where the bombings took place at two popular night clubs -- Sari Club and Paddy's Pub -- before midnight on Oct. 12, 2002, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 23 Britons.
Among the mourners, Australian Keneth Jhon Welsh, 61, said he came to the Bali bombing monument to remember his friends, seven players of Perth's Kingsley Football club who were killed in the bombings carried out by members of militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.
"I will never forgive the bombers," he said, crying.
"This terror attack should have never happened on this beautiful island," he added.
A local tour company placed one of the bouquets for a Japanese couple killed in the attack, Kosuke and Yuka Suzuki. It carried a card that read, "Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki, may your souls rest in peace."
Takako Suzuki, 79, told Kyodo News by phone that she has been unable to visit Bali to remember her son and his wife after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. She visited Bali annually for the anniversary until 2019.
"I can't forgive them (attackers) for the rest of my life," she said.
Balinese Ni Luh Erniati, 52, whose husband, a head waiter at Sari Club, died in the explosion, said that she already forgave the perpetrators.
"Maintaining a hard feeling or vengeance will only make us sick. We have to move on," she said.
An anti-terror police squad called Densus 88, established following the bombings, was scheduled to lead a separate commemoration event with a moment of silence before midnight on Wednesday at the same site.
The head of Indonesia's National Counter Terrorism Agency, Boy Rafli Amar, said around 900 ex-terrorists arrested after the Bali bombings have joined de-radicalization programs since 2012.
He said that most of the Jemaah Islamiyah members involved in various bombings over the years had been arrested but warned that a new generation of the group, operating with a different method, may pose a potential threat in the future.