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Australia Boosts Embassy Security After Jakarta Blast

11 September 2004 -- Australia says it is increasing security at its diplomatic missions around the world, following the 9 September bomb attack outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta that killed nine people and injured some 180 others.

The new security measures will include bomb-proofing for all Australian missions abroad, as well as relocation of the consulate in Bali and new checks on incoming flights from Indonesia. The announcement follows a warning that terrorists could be planning another attack on Australians in Indonesia.

The announcement of security upgrades came on the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks on Australia's close ally, the United States.

Prime Minister John Howard recalled those attacks as he announced the security upgrade.

"Today is the 11th of September, three years since the terror attack in New York and Washington and the world did change on that day and those who pretend it didn't are deluding themselves and denying history, and we are living in a different environment," Howard said. "And even in a freedom-loving country such as Australia we have to recognize that."

Security has already been stepped up around Australia's main airports and on flights to Indonesia.

Officials are also worried that terrorists may be planning another attack in Indonesia -- and Howard warned that Australia and its allies face a long fight against terrorism.

"What you can do is to act in a timely fashion on advice. What you can do is to reinforce embassies," Howard said. "What you can do is work with regional friends. It is going to be a long and bloody battle -- the fight against terrorism. Anybody who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves."

In Jakarta, the national police chief warned Saturday that future attacks in Indonesia may be hard to prevent -- despite increased security.

"Indonesian police have made efforts to increase the level of security at strategic and targeted places such Australian Embassy, United States Embassy, and British Embassy in Jakarta, but if [the terrorists'] modus operandi is similar to this then it will be difficult for us to prevent it," Bachtiar said.

Da'i Bachtiar said police are intensifying their efforts to find the men behind Thursday's bombing and showed pictures of the two main suspects.

He said explosives residue had been found at the house in Jakarta where one of the men had been living.

He said the man, a Malaysian named Azahari Husin, is a bomb-making expert and member of the militant group Jemaah Islamiah, which is linked to Al-Qaeda.

"We are investigating this group," Bachtiar said. "[The Azahari group] is still recruiting new members from East Java, Central Java, and West Java. That's how they are able to carry out these attacks."

Jemaah Islamiah is blamed for the Bali nightclub bombing of 2002 that killed more than 200 people and for an attack on a Jakarta hotel last year that killed 12.

Indonesia has convicted scores of people over those cases, but many feel that Thursday's attack shows that authorities need to do more.

(RFE/news agencies)