Three Bali bombers have gone to their deaths shouting for their God, five years after being sentenced to die for killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Crack Indonesian soldiers, handpicked for the job, took aim and shot the Islamic militants through the heart on their prison island just after midnight.
The executions reportedly took place in an orchard on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, where Mukhlas, his younger brother Amrozi and Imam Samudra lived out their last years in a high-security prison.
A source at the prison said the condemned men had shouted “Allahu Akbar”, or God is greater, as they were escorted from their isolation cells shortly before the executions.
The news brought mixed reaction in Australia, with many survivors and relatives of those killed expressing relief, but others worried about reprisal attacks.
“At 12.15am (04.15 AEDT), the convicts … were executed by shooting and followed up with an autopsy,” Jasman Pandjaitan, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office, said.
“They have been stated as dead. At this moment the bodies are being washed by the family.”
The family of Mukhlas and Amrozi said they had been advised of the executions and were waiting to receive the bodies, which will be flown to their home village of Tenggulun by helicopter later today.
“May our brothers, God willing, be invited by green birds to heaven now,” the men’s brother Mohammad Chozin said outside an Islamic boarding school in the east Java village, as supporters shouted “Allahu Akbar”.
Many Australians expressed relief that the men were finally dead, six years after they brought carnage to Bali by sending suicide bombers to attack the Sari Club and nearby Paddy’s Bar on October 12, 2002.
The men were sentenced to die in 2003, but five years of legal appeals delayed their executions and exhausted those waiting for justice.
“… we’ve waited a very long time for this and this is our justice,” Sydney woman Maria Kotronakis, who lost two sisters and two cousins, told CNN, struggling at times to speak.
“Finally the moment has come.”
Erik de Haart, a member of Sydney’s Coogee Dolphins football club who lost six mates in the bombings, said he didn’t quite believe the news when he heard it.
“It took a while to sink in. It’s been so long that you kind of don’t expect it … you think they’ve found another excuse not to do it,” he told Sky News.
“We can close this chapter of the book and move on a bit.”
But he said the grief for his lost mates would never end.
“The guys are never going to come back, all we’re left with is our memories and our thoughts of these guys,” he said.
Survivor Peter Hughes, of Perth, who suffered horrific burns in the bombings, said the three bombers had paid the highest price for mass murder, but their executions did not bring him any joy.
“These guys went to set about mass murder and paid the highest penalty. It doesn’t feel good but they did do the crime and they’ve paid for it,” he told CNN.
Former Adelaide magistrate Brian Deegan, who lost his son Josh, said he was full of trepidation about reprisal attacks.
“I have (a sense of) trepidation as to what might happen as a result of this,” he told AAP.
“I’m very concerned about that. There’s no shortage around the world of persons that are prepared to commit suicide to achieve a result.”
Deegan said he continued to grieve for his son.
“The tears don’t roll quite as often, that absolute gut-ache has diminished a bit. But they don’t go away.”
The bombers’ bodies will soon be flown by helicopter to their home villages for burial within 24 hours, in accordance with Muslim custom.
In Tenggulun, sobbing mourners are converging on the home of Amrozi and Mukhlas’ mother.
Hardline cleric Abu Bakar Bashir – the co-founder of Jemaah Islamiah, the group blamed for the Bali bombings – praised the bombers as “holy warriors” during a visit to the village on Saturday.
Security forces are on high alert across the mainly Muslim country, after the bombers urged supporters to carry out revenge attacks if their executions went ahead.
Australian authorities have advised Australians to reconsider the need to travel to Indonesia.