Deadly blast, accidents
mar New Year's Eve

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A bomb blast, accidents and violence marked the new year on Thursday across the country, with at least 16 people dead and many others injured.

At least 10 people, including two children, were killed and 30 others wounded when a powerful bomb exploded in Peureulak, East Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province on Wednesday night.

The blast took place during a concert at a crowded night market. Six were killed instantly and the remaining four, including a one-and-half-year-old boy and seven-year-old boy, died in hospital.

East Aceh military commander Col. Andogo, who visited the scene on Thursday, accused the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels of planting the bomb under the concert's stage.

""It's handmade, not a (military) standard bomb. Many people were killed since most of them were standing near the stage,"" he said.

However, local rebel commander Ishak Daud denied that GAM was behind the attack. ""We have never targeted civilians because they are our people,"" he told AFP.

The blast was the bloodiest incident since Aceh was placed under martial law on May 19, 2003. Hundreds of people, mostly civilians, have since been killed in firefights between troops and GAM members.

The transition into 2004 was also marked by several fatal accidents across the country, leaving at least six revelers dead.

Two families in the Bali capital of Denpasar observed New Year's Eve in silence, anguishing over a tragic accident that claimed the lives of three children.

The bodies of nine-year old Taufik Hidayat, his six-year old brother Rizky Najarudin and their seven-year old friend Bayu Adi Saputra were found before dawn on Wednesday in a muddy pond, some 200 meters from their houses.

They had been reported missing on Tuesday afternoon.

In the West Java capital Bandung, 22-year-old Iwan was unable to blow the trumpet he had bought to celebrate New Year's Eve after a bus hit his motorcycle about 25 minutes before the arrival of 2004.

The resident of Cibogo hamlet, Citatah village, Cipatat subdistrict, died at the scene, while his 15-year-old girlfriend was injured in the accident.

Also, a man was killed and six others injured in a collision between two motorcycles in Bojonegoro regency, East Java, amid traffic congestion at New Year's Eve, Antara reported.

The victim, Suhari, along with his fiance, Dian, was driving his motorcycle and was suddenly hit by another motorbike coming from the opposite direction, which was believed to be driven by a drunken man.

New Year's Eve in Greater Jakarta was observed peacefully, but one person died and at least 19 others were injured in various car and motorcycle accidents, hospital sources said on Thursday.

A man named Asmadi was killed in Cariuk area, Bogor regency, while 11 people were treated at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM) in Central Jakarta for injuries sustained in traffic accidents, said Daryono, a staffer at the hospital's emergency unit.

At Tarakan General Hospital, Central Jakarta, seven people received treatment for injuries. Two of them were sent to RSCM due to the seriousness of their injuries, said duty nurse, Sister Eva.

Another car accident victim was admitted to St. Carolus General Hospital.

In the Southeast Sulawesi capital of Kendari one person died and nine others were injured in several accidents, said a hospital worker at Edi Sabara General Hospital's emergency unit.

In Surabaya, a man, identified as Sujadi, suffered serious injuries after being mobbed by several men during a New Year's Eve celebration.

In Medan, North Sumatra and Batam in Riau, thousands of revelers enjoyed peaceful celebrations.

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