Britons 'at risk' in South-east Asia

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The Independent Online

British tourists are likely to become terrorist targets in a number of South- east Asian countrieswhere al-Qa'ida and its allies are operating, security sources have warned.

British tourists are likely to become terrorist targets in a number of South- east Asian countrieswhere al-Qa'ida and its allies are operating, security sources have warned.

The security agencies believe that a network of terrorists is operating in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, as well as Indonesia, and the region has become the new focal point for al-Qa'ida.

The assessment comes amid continuing controversy over exactly how much was known by the British government about the threat of an attack in Bali.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, strongly denied charges that the Government was given intelligence specifically pointing at the island as a target just a couple of days before last Saturday's devastating bombings.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Straw said that in August there there had been a "generic threat, information which covered Bali as well as a number of other islands in Indonesia". Yesterday he insisted: "We did not have any specific warnings of an attack on Bali."

The Foreign Office has advised Britons to leave Indonesia after fresh intelligence suggested that further terrorist action was likely. However, according to security sources, the threat extends to neighbouring countries, with the Jemaah Islamiyah organisation as the prime suspects.

Yesterday the Malaysian authorities named a former university lecturer, Azahari Husein, 45, who had fled to Indonesia, as a suspect in the Bali bombings.

Several plots to attack Western targets have been uncovered in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and a group of 13 suspects were arrested in Singapore.

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