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Australia Warns of Possible Terror Plot in Indonesia - 2003-03-22


The Australian government says it has information that terrorists may be planning an attack aimed at Westerners in Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs has advised its citizens to avoid Surabaya, the capital of East Java province. It believes groups with a history of targeting Westerners have planned attacks for Sunday or Monday.

For Australians already in Indonesia's second city, the list of places to avoid is long. It includes restaurants, bars, hotels, schools, fast food outlets, shopping centers and public transport.

The last time the Australian government issued a terror alert was after the bombing last October on the Indonesian Island of Bali, which killed more than 200 people. Eighty-eight of the victims were Australian.

The main suspects in the Bali massacre have admitted associations with the extreme Muslim terrorist organization, Jemmah Islamiah.

Australian officials have not specified which group might launch an attack in Surabaya.

In the past few days, a senior Western diplomat expressed concern that Iraqi agents acting for Saddam Hussein's regime may be active in Indonesia.

Australia has committed 2,000 troops to the U.S.-led war on Iraq, its largest combat deployment since the Vietnam War.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said the invasion of Iraq is necessary, claiming Iraq's weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists, and the threat to Australia would be "direct, lethal and undeniable."

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