Three Islamist militants convicted over the Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people awaited execution Saturday as Indonesia stood guard against a feared extremist backlash.
A source at the Nusakambangan island prison off southern Java said Amrozi, 47, his brother Mukhlas, 48, and attack strategist Imam Samudra, 38, had been placed in isolation and the execution order had been delivered.
"The letter ordering the execution was submitted last night at 9 p.m.," the source said. He did not say whether the letter gave a precise time for the executions.
Residents at Amrozi's and Mukhlas's home village of Tenggulun, East Java, woke Saturday to find an "H" had been painted on the ground overnight in a nearby field, where a helicopter from Nusakambangan might land with the bodies.
Local television also reported that checkpoints had been set up around Samudra's home town of Serang, and that a grave had been prepared.
Security forces have been placed on high alert across the mainly Muslim country as a precaution against an explosion of Islamist anger at the first executions to be carried out under Indonesia's anti-terror law.
Sensitive areas like foreign embassies, tourist spots, shopping malls and ports were under close guard. On the Hindu-majority resort island of Bali, 3,500 police were on the streets providing additional security, officials said.
Hand-written posters appeared overnight in the East Java city of Surabaya promising retaliation for the bombers' execution. "One word for Amrozi's killers: retribution," said one.
The 2002 bombings targeted nightspots packed with Western tourists, killing more than 160 foreigners including 88 Australians. The bombers said they were retaliation for U.S.-led aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They were convicted and sentenced in 2003 under a new anti-terror law which was applied retroactively, leading anti-death penalty campaigners to question the legality of their executions.
All three have said they are eager to embrace "martyrdom," despite a series of failed appeals and legal challenges which have delayed their date with the firing squad.
All executions in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad, usually in the dead of night at undisclosed locations.
Defense lawyer Wirawan Adnan said he did not expect the government to follow the usual practice of giving the families three days' notice.
"I believe it's going to happen unannounced. It's just the way it is because they don't want the public to know and they're going to do it secretly," he said.
Officials have not confirmed a date for the executions other than "early November."
As police stepped up security around foreign embassies, the British ambassador was set to host a dinner for Prince Charles, who arrived in Jakarta to promote inter-faith dialogue and environmental issues.
The U.S. embassy issued a statement Friday warning citizens in Indonesia to "maintain a low profile" and advising that the consulate in Surabaya might have to close "on short notice."
Australia also warned against "demonstrations and acts of violence" in an update to its travel advisory last week.
The bombers, members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror network, have expressed no remorse for the attacks.
In a string of media appearances and interviews they have been allowed to conduct from prison, they have warned of retribution and parroted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's world view of militant Islam at war against the West.
Mukhlas claims to have met bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and named his son Osama.
In Tenggulun, the family of Mukhlas and Amrozi -- a former mechanic known as the "smiling assassin" for his childish courtroom antics -- remained defiant.
"If they die because they are standing up for the religion, they will be placed in paradise," elder brother Muhammad Chozin said.
Hordes of journalists and camera crews have descended on the village to wait out the executions.© Wire reports