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Severed Heads Clue In Bali Probe

Investigators hunting for the masterminds of three suicide bombings on the popular resort island of Bali hoped Monday to identify the bombers using photographs of their severed heads circulating in newspapers nationwide.

Police also sought three accomplices believed to still be on the Indonesian resort island, and enlisted a former operative of Southeast Asia's top terror group to help track down the plotters of Saturday's attack, which killed at least 22 people and wounded 104.

The suspects in the near-simultaneous bombings on three crowded restaurants were believed to have been fitted with explosive belts that blew apart their torsos. But their heads were intact, swollen and bruised but remarkably well-preserved, said Indonesian anti-terror official Maj. Gen. Ansyaad Mbai.

The heads — and a chilling video capturing a suspected bomber strolling past diners at one of the cafes moments before it was blown up — could provide a tremendous boost to the investigation.

Results could come within days, he said, adding three other people suspected of involvement were probably still at large on Bali.

"If the past is any precedent, they have planned safe houses and are lying low, letting the first dragnet pass over head," said Ken Conboy, a Jakarta-based security consultant and author of an upcoming book on terrorism in Southeast Asia.

Bali has been hit before, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila Macvicar. Three years ago, bombs in a nightclub left more than 200 dead. Tourists went home; the Island's economy was just recovering.

"Before they bombed nightclubs so only the younger tourists had to worry about being bombed," said an Australian man. "But now it's targeting everyone, even older people who don't go to nightclubs so they won't come to Bali now."

Australia's government had warned it believed terrorist groups on the island were moving towards an attack. In spite of that heightened alert, intelligence was not specific enough to stop Saturday's attack.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks at two seafood cafes on Jimbaran beach and a noodle-and-steak house in the bustling tourist center of Kuta, all packed with diners on the busiest night of the week. The bombs went off within six minutes of each other.

But suspicion immediately fell on the al Qaeda-linked regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been linked to several deadly bombings in the world's most populous Muslim country, including the 2002 nightclub attacks in Bali that killed 202 people.

Southeast Asian intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that the group could be orchestrating a major attack in the region and, fearing more strikes in the days ahead, were clamping down.

Thailand, which draws millions of sun-seeking tourists every year, put all of its major resort areas on full alert Monday after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra warned that terrorists "are commuting and rotating around in the region."

Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia were also on heightened alert.

If Jemaah Islamiyah's involvement in Saturday's blasts is confirmed, it could show that the group, crippled by a three-year regional crackdown, is capable of adapting, using for the first time explosive suicide vests, possibly set off by mobile phones. In the past, the militants have used easier-to-detect car bombs, packed with hundreds of kilograms (pounds) of chemicals.

Saturday's blasts came as Indonesia — the world's most populous Muslim nation — was preparing to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which starts on Wednesday here.

Australian tourist Vicky Griffiths was dining with her husband, Kim, when the bombers struck at a packed seafood restaurant, throwing her over a table and to the ground. She told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. television on Sunday that she was able to get up and walk away.

"But I didn't realize I had the ball bearings in my back until they X-rayed me. I've had a lot of pain. I thought it was a broken rib, but I've got ball bearings from the blast," said the woman from Newcastle, in eastern Australia.

Death tolls have varied because the blasts dismembered the bodies, making them hard to count.

Sanglah, the main hospital treating the victims, posted its death toll of 29 on a bulletin board. A police spokesman, Maj. Gen. Aryanto Budihardjo, told reporters in the capital that 22 had been killed, including the three bombers.

Fourteen Indonesians, two Australians and one Japanese man were among the dead. Officials were trying to identify the nationalities of the other corpses.

The 104 wounded included 49 Indonesians, 17 Australians, six Americans, six Koreans, and four Japanese, officials said.

In one neighborhood in Bali, residents erected a banner reading: "What has my Bali done to deserve this?"

Drinks vendor Carsen was among many Balinese residents whose shock over the carnage has started turning to anger after attackers again targeted the tropical resort island, which relies heavily on tourism.

"When we catch these guys, there's no point providing them with defense lawyers, just string them up and let us punish them," said Carsen, who goes by one name.

One of the victims was cremated Monday in line with Hindu tradition. Hundreds of mourners crammed into the narrow streets close to the house of Gusti Sedana, a 33-year-old waiter at Raja's restaurant, clanging gongs and chanting as they escorted his body on a golden yellow float.

"I grew up with him. I feel devastated," said Sedana's older brother, Gusti Mandalika. "But as Hindus we believe that everything is part of God's plan."

Mbai, the anti-terror chief, said the alleged masterminds of the blasts were Malaysian fugitives Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top — who have also been blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings.

They have eluded authorities for years, several times slipping through the fingers of Indonesian police who earlier offered a US$100,000 (euro83,000) reward for information leading to their arrest.

Authorities have enlisted the help of a former Jemaah Islamiyah operative to help track down the masterminds in Saturday's bombings. Nasir Abbas, who has testified against former colleagues in trials, arrived on Bali two hours after the blasts, working as an informant for police.

"Police are using him to help find which group is behind this operation, former terrorists can help give details," Mbai said.

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