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Sydney Announces Major Terrorism Response Plan


Australia's largest city, Sydney, has unveiled an emergency plan to cope with a possible terrorist attack, in the wake of the 2001 attacks in New York, attacks last year in Madrid and last month's attacks in London.

Officials in Sydney Friday announced emergency response plans, saying they drew on the experiences of other major cities hit by terrorism, including New York in September 2001 and Madrid last year.

The recent bombings in London added extra urgency to getting the plan out. Half-a-million people work in, live in and visit central Sydney everyday.

The state premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma, says emergency procedures will be invaluable, if the worst happens. "Our plans are designed to keep as many people as possible informed of incidents, and to provide them with the best possible advice to ensure their safety," he said.

The central component of the terrorism plan is a directed evacuation of people to three special secure zones.

Security agencies here have identified some 60 suspected extremists in Australia, who have received training with militant groups overseas.

Opposition Labor leader Kim Beazley has accused the conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard of failing to adequately protect Australians. "Four years into the war on terror, Australia is not as prepared as we should or can be to prevent terrorism," stated Mr. Beazley.

The government in Canberra has repeatedly insisted that the presence of hundreds of its troops in and around Iraq has not made Australia more of a target for radical elements.

Australia has never suffered a terror attack on home soil. However, 88 Australian tourists died in the bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali in October 2002. It was an attack that brought Australia to the frontline of international terrorism for the first time.

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