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Second cell poised for Indonesia attack SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA) - Militants behind the deadly bombing of Australia's Jakarta embassy have a second group poised for attack, Australia's top policeman warned as Canberra said on Saturday all its diplomatic missions would be made bomb-proof. "There is intelligence suggesting that there is a second group active in the area," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told ABC radio.
"Intelligence comes through all the time about threats and possible threats and there's further intelligence in the last 24 to 48 hours of a second group," said Keelty, who flew to Jakarta to investigate the blast. Indonesian police have launched a nationwide hunt for al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah militants blamed for the suicide car bomb attack that killed nine Indonesians and injured 182 outside the Australian embassy on Thursday.
Indonesian news portal reported that police had narrowed their search for two Malaysians, Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top, to densely populated central and eastern areas of Java, Indonesia's main island. Azahari is a bomb-making expert and member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah. Indonesia police have also released a videotape of the explosion taken from a security camera which shows a small box-shaped van exploding in front of the embassy on one of Jakarta's busiest streets.
Keelty's warning came as Australian government ministers broke off campaigning for the Oct. 9 election to gather in Sydney for a cabinet security committee meeting. Opposition Labor leaders also met to discuss security issues. Indonesia, Australia's northern neighbor and the world's most populous Muslim nation, is itself only days away from presidential run-off elections.
The Sydney meeting was held on the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 hijacked airliner strikes on the United States, Australia's close ally, and came a day after Prime Minister John Howard warned that more attacks were possible. "It is going to be a long and bloody battle, the fight against terrorism," Howard told reporters after the meeting, which included briefings by Keelty and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer after their return from Jakarta.
Center-left Labor leader Mark Latham sounded a warning that "the war on terrorism is the key strategic challenge facing Australia and its neighbors." Howard said on Saturday that bomb-proofing measures at the Jakarta embassy had saved many lives. All Australia's diplomatic missions which did not already have the same standards would be upgraded as soon as possible, beginning with those in its region.
" ... we have ordered the extension of the same facilities on a priority basis where they do not exist for other Australian embassy buildings around the world," Howard said, adding that Canberra would also contribute A$5 million ($3.5 million) to a joint Indonesia-Australia police investigation of the blast. As grieving Indonesians began to bury their dead on Saturday, doctors said a 5-year-old Australian girl critically wounded in the blast was in stable condition in a Singapore hospital.
Tiny Elisabeth Manuela Bambina Musu, known affectionately as "Manny," has had shrapnel removed from her abdomen and head in separate operations in Jakarta and Singapore. It is not known whether she is aware that her mother was killed in the blast. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reissued a travel advisory on Saturday warning citizens against non-essential travel to Indonesia and also issued a rare general warning for its nationals traveling overseas.
"The terrorist attacks on 9 September outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and in Bali on 12 October 2002 underscore the ongoing threat to Australians across the world posed by international terrorism," Saturday's warning said. Australia has never suffered a major terror attack on home soil but 88 Australians were among 202 people killed in nightclub bombings two years ago on Bali, an Indonesian resort island. Security has already been stepped up around Australia's main airports and on flights to Indonesia from Australia.
Jemaah Islamiah has apparently claimed responsibility for the Jakarta attack. In an Internet statement that could not immediately be authenticated, it warned Australia of more attacks if it did not withdraw its 850 troops from in and around Iraq. Howard and Latham have clashed in the past over Iraq, with Latham saying he wanted Australia's troops home by Christmas but Howard steadfast that they would stay as long as needed to support the U.S.-led occupation.
Security analysts have warned that the rift between the two big parties could leave Australia open to attacks similar to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people three days before Spain's March 11 elections. The pro-U.S. government was swept from power and the incoming Socialists quickly pulled the country's troops out of Iraq.

Link to related event Related event:
Australian embassy bombing

Posted in Terrorism @ 11 September 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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