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Indonesia confirms Bali bomber killed in raid

Indonesia's leader Wednesday confirmed that a suspected Bali bombing mastermind was killed in a Jakarta raid and vowed to keep hunting extremists in a landmark address to Australia's parliament.

Indonesia confirms Bali bomber killed in raid President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Dulmatin, an Al-Qaeda trained bomb specialist with a 10 million US dollar bounty on his head from Washington, was killed by police in a major blow to Indonesia's Islamic militants. "We can confirm that one of those that were killed was Mr. Dulmatin, one of the top Southeast Asian terrorists that we have been looking for," Yudhoyono said through an interpreter in Canberra. Yudhoyono also promised to keep up the pressure on militants including Dulmatin's Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for the 2002 Bali blasts which killed 202 people including 88 Australians. "Just yesterday our police authorities raided an important terrorist cell in a suburb of Jakarta and put several terrorist operatives out of commission," he told parliament. "In any case, the Indonesian authorites will continue to hunt them down and do all we can to prevent them from harming our people." Dulmatin, one of Indonesia's most wanted fugitives, was accused of helping plan and carry out the Bali blasts. Police had refused to confirm he was one of three militants killed on Tuesday after he was falsely reported dead in 2008. His death follows Indonesia's success last September in killing Malaysian terror mastermind Noordin Mohammad Top in a raid which left his Central Java hideout a burnt-out shell.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd praised the operation, which took place on the same day Yudhoyono was given Australia's highest civilian honour for overseeing the initial Bali investigation as Indonesia's security minister. "This has been a very professional operation by the Indonesian security forces and it comes on top of other successful operations in recent times," Rudd said. Related article: Indonesia, Australia pledge on people smuggling "The breakthroughs which Indonesia has made in undermining various terrorist networks have been significant." The announcement capped a triumphant visit for Yudhoyono, who became one of only a handful of foreign leaders to address parliament and pledged to crack down on people-smuggling in a wide-ranging new accord with Australia. As the 21st boatload of asylum-seekers this year was stopped off Australia's north, he said Indonesia planned new laws which would jail people smugglers for up to five years. "We have finally worked out a bilateral mechanism for cooperation to deal with this issue so that future people-smuggling cases can be handled in a predictable and coordinative way," he said. Australia has long complained about the rickety boats which arrive on its shores via Indonesia, ferrying asylum-seekers from the world's conflict zones and economic trouble-spots. Rudd said links between the countries had been upgraded to a "new level" during the visit, dramatically reshaping relations which were previously characterised by a series of flare-ups. He said a move to hold annual meetings between their leaders, foreign and defence ministers put Australia's giant, mainly Muslim neighbour in line with the United States, whose President Barack Obama will visit both countries this month. Yudhoyono also said the two sides had progressed from a "love-hate" relationship to a bold strategic partnership, as they bid to improve exchanges and work on a possible free trade deal. But he warned they needed to overcome "age-old stereotypes" which painted Indonesia as a military dictatorship and Australians as pro-white. "I want Australians to know Indonesia is a beautiful archipelago but we are invariably more than a beach playground with coconut trees," Yudhoyono added. Both sides have preferred to sidestep recent skirmishes over asylum-seekers, death sentences for three Australian drug-smugglers and Australia's war-crimes probe into Indonesian troops' 1975 killing of five journalists in East Timor.