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Australia warns of possible attacks in Indonesia

Written by: Staff
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Sydney, Apr 20: Australia warned its citizens today of a possibly imminent attack on Westerners in Indonesia, saying that terrorists were in the advanced stages of preparing strikes.

''Recent reports suggest Thursday 20 April 2006 could be a potential date for attack but we emphasise that attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Indonesia,'' the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an updated travel warning on its Web site (www.smartraveller.gov.au).

It advised Australians to reconsider travelling to Indonesia, including the popular holiday island of Bali, because of ''the very high threat of terrorist attack'' and warned those already there to consider leaving.

''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, including places frequented by foreigners,'' it said.

US and Australian authorities issued almost identical warnings on March 31, identifying April 2 as a possible likely date for a strike against Westerners in Indonesia. No attack eventuated.

''Any popular tourist area or location known to be frequented by Westerners, including resort areas in Bali, is a potential target,'' Australia's latest warning said.

''We cannot rule out the possibility of another attack targeting Westerners, including Australians, anywhere in Indonesia,'' it said.

The 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali killed 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 US-owned luxury hotel in Jakarta have also been bombing targets, and Indonesian and foreign authorities have suggested in recent months that violent groups could change tactics to aim at individual government officials and Westerners.

Police and intelligence officials have blamed the attacks on militant Muslims with ties to Jemaah Islamiah, an al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian Islamic network.

REUTERS

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