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Officials Report Some Success in Fight Against Terrorism, But Threat Remains


Asian nations agree they are experiencing some success in the fight against terrorism but say Islamic militants continue to pose a threat with constantly changing tactics, new strategies, and fresh recruitment. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Six Asia-Pacific nations began a two-day meeting in Jakarta Monday to discuss current efforts and new developments in the region's fight against terrorism.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says as efforts to combat terrorism improve, so do the capabilities of the militants to carry out new strikes.

"Terrorists are still out there. They continue to find support. They continue to make bombs. And they continue to recruit operatives to carry out their attacks," Downer said. "And even as our capacity to stop them improves, their methods and abilities become more sophisticated."

The conference is co-hosted by Indonesia and Australia. Both countries have been cooperating closely since the regional terrorist group Jemaah Isamiyah bombed the Indonesian resort island of Bali in 2002. Many of the more than 200 people killed were Australian tourists.

Indonesia has suffered a series of terrorist attacks over the past several years blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, or J.I.

While Indonesia has arrested some 300 J.I. militants over the last few years, security analysts warn the organization has splintered and regrouped into several factions that continue to pose a serious threat.

Indonesia's foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, says terrorist attacks affect the security and economies of nations in the region.

"We owe it to our citizens to wage a protracted battle against terrorism, for when terrorists are successful they not only manage to kill large numbers of people, but they also paralyze societies and destabilize political systems, and they wreck economies," he said.

Participants in the meeting include Thailand, which is fighting separatists in its largely Muslim southern provinces, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, which is fighting the J.I.-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group on the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

The meeting will tackle two major issues - fighting Islamic radicalism and preparing for a mass casualty attack.

Other topics to be discussed are the building of a security database system, and cooperation between the six nations on monitoring the movement of people and weapons across borders.

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