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Terror Threat Forces Some International Schools to Close in Indonesia - 2002-11-15


Several international schools in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, have been closed following reports of a new terrorist threat. The warning was issued Friday by Australia.

International schools in the Indonesian capital, including the Australian School and the Jakarta International School, have been closed indefinitely. A spokesman for Australia's embassy in Jakarta, Jeffrey Leach, told VOA the closure followed a warning from his government. "We have credible information regarding the possible targeting by terrorist elements of international schools in Jakarta which may be identified with Western interests," he said.

Mr. Leach said the latest warning by his government was an update on a recent advisory urging Australians to avoid travel to Indonesia and several other Southeast Asian countries.

The warnings come one month after a bomb attack on the Indonesian island of Bali killed more than 190 people, nearly one-half of them Australian. Indonesian officials have arrested one suspect in that bombing, and are looking for other suspects who are still at large.

The Australian embassy has also urged its citizens to consider leaving Indonesia. Spokesman Mr. Leach said some have done so, but many have chosen to remain. "There are still a very large number of Australians here," he said. "They're keeping very careful and cautious but very matter of fact, I suppose, as well."

The spokesman said these citizens are prepared to get on with their lives as long as it is safe to do so.

Other Western governments have also issued warnings of possible new attacks in the region. The advisories have angered Southeast Asian governments who say region-wide travel warnings unfairly target countries that have not had terrorist threats.

Friday's warning came as Indonesian officials and residents of Bali performed cleansing ceremonies at the site of last month's attacks, and urged tourists to return to the once thriving resort.

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