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Indonesian on alert after attack warnings

Written by: Staff

Jakarta, Apr 2: Indonesia today tightened security in key places after the United States and Australia warned of possible attacks against Westerners in the country, police said.

Authorities deployed additional police at potential targets in the capital Jakarta and were also on guard in the resort island of Bali, a popular destination among Western tourists that has been a target of bomb attacks in the past.

''Police have increased security at several vital places and police officers are scattered at places that are known to be centres for foreigners,'' said Anton Bachrul Alam, deputy national police spokesman.

Antonius Reniban, Bali police spokesman, told Elshinta radio that the situation in Bali was normal but police were on high alert, especially at major tourist sites and religious places.

''We are committed to secure the safety of people in Bali by increasing the number of personnel at several tourist sites such as Kuta, Sanur, and Jimbaran,'' Reniban said.

''We have also increased security at ferry ports and are checking every vehicle that enters Bali. As for the airport, it's not a problem because it has the necessary security equipment like metal detectors to avoid an unwanted situation.'' The heightened security came after the United States and Australia said last week that Sunday could be a potential date for an attack against Westerners and Western interests in Indonesia.

However, they also said that attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Indonesia.

Canberra told Australians to reconsider travel to Indonesia and Bali, saying Westerners were priority targets for attacks and kidnappings.

''We continue to receive a stream of reporting indicating that terrorists are in the advanced stages of planning attacks against Western interests in Indonesia against a range of targets,'' the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

Indonesia has already witnessed bombings blamed on the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah, a militant Southeast Asian network.

In 2002, bomb exploded in nightclubs in Bali, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians. In October 2005, 20 people, including four Australians, were killed in a new spate of bombings in Bali.

The Australian embassy and a U S-owned luxury hotel in Jakarta have also been bombing targets, and Indonesian and foreign authorities in recent months have suggested violent groups could change tactics to aim at individual government officials and Westerners.


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