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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Thailand, Malaysia dismiss terror warnings
Bali bomb scene, October 2002
Travel warnings were also issued in the wake of the Bali attacks

Thailand has angrily dismissed travel warnings by Australia and New Zealand, which say the country is at risk of an attack by Islamic militants.

Thailand was one of several South East Asian countries included in the travel advisories following the suicide bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Malaysia has also hit back at its inclusion in a travel warning issued by the US on Wednesday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that insecurity resulting from the Iraq war had made the United States "afraid of its own shadow".

I would warn Thais visiting Australia to be careful because this country is a target too
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra insisted on Friday that there was "nothing to worry about" in Thailand.

The tourist industry is a vital part of Thailand's economy, and it has already been hit hard by the regional Sars outbreak and the effect of the attacks in neighbouring Bali.

Mr Thaksin said he was confident that his country was not a terrorist target, since it was not an enemy of any particular terrorist group.

"I will ask the foreign ministry to notify the Australian embassy that they should not overreact," he said.

The prime minister said the Thai authorities had implemented stringent anti-terrorist measures in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, and the Bali bombings last October.

In the aftermath of Bali, Australia and several European countries issued advice warning of the dangers of travelling to the resort island of Phuket in southern Thailand.

Mr Thaskin added: "I would warn Thais visiting Australia to be careful because this country is a target too."

The Australian authorities also warned citizens to defer non-essential travel to the Philippines, Malaysia, East Timor, Singapore and Brunei, saying they had information that militant groups were targeting Westerners.

Australia has already advised its nationals to defer non-essential travel to Indonesia.

Malaysian anger

Malaysia, for its part, rebuffed US accusations that travel there poses "continuing concern".

Washington said the South East Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah - which has been accused of the Bali bombings - may be planning further attacks in the region.

But Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday that US citizens were safe in his country.

"We have security forces adequate enough to maintain peace and security," he said.

He accused the US of paranoia.

"They are afraid of their own shadow, afraid to come here, afraid because they know there are many people in this world hating them," the Malaysian news agency Bernama quoted him as saying.




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