Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Australia and New Zealand warn of more terror attacks

REUTERS , SYDNEY

Australia, which has already told its nationals to stay away from targets in Indonesia like hotels and shopping centers, said yesterday that terror attacks could be launched there on Sunday, Indonesia's national day.

New Zealand's ambassador to Indonesia has also written to up to 900 New Zealand citizens registered with their Jakarta embassy warning of reports that "terrorist groups are planning attacks."

"The letter notes that Indonesian police have reportedly seized a list of terrorist targets and that they believe a group of suicide bombers exists in the country," New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said in a statement.

"Police have also been reported as saying that there are sizable quantities of unaccounted-for explosive material in Jakarta," he said.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said earlier that he feared a possible terror strike in the Indonesian capital on August 17 to coincide with National Day celebrations.

"I am very concerned specifically about Jakarta. We've just had information there, the night before last, that there could be terrorist attacks on international hotels or shopping centers used by Westerners, those kinds of targets," Downer said. "Aug. 17 is Indonesia's National Day, so it's a day where this sort of thing could happen."

Asked to comment on Downer's remarks, Indonesian national police chief Da'i Bachtiar said in Jakarta that police had received general warnings about possible attacks related to National Day, but not details.

"We don't know who were his [Downer's] sources, but our sources just reported in general, not specifics," Bachtiar said.

He said the government planned tighter security at possible targets and in public places, including a bigger police presence.

The US embassy in Jakarta had advised its nationals on Wednesday "to take special precautions regarding their personal security and avoid large gatherings" on the weekend.

Australia's top spy has warned that another "catastrophic" attack like on Sept.11, 2001 in the US is possible and that Australia, a staunch US ally, must consider itself a possible target.

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