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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 21:05 GMT 22:05 UK
Australia under attack, says press
The day after a powerful blast outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, newspapers in Australia are shaken by what they all consider to be a direct attack on their country.

"In their sights and now it's personal," reads a headline in Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"While the attack in Bali was aimed at all Western tourists, this time it seems to have become personal," writes a military analyst in the same paper.

"Australia is, for the first time, the clear and specific target of Indonesian-based terrorists", echoes the Sydney Morning Herald.

A commentator writing in Melbourne's The Age believes that, following the school siege tragedy in Russia, the attack will bring the "phenomenon of mega terror" home to Australians.

"If anyone in this country was ever tempted to dismiss these concerns as remote to our national interests, yesterday's blast represents a further crude statement of malevolent intent," the commentary says.

'Madrid tactic'

There is little doubt, as far as the newspapers are concerned, that the militant Islamists Jemaah Islamiah (JI) were behind the attack.

Ordinary Australians and Indonesians alike have no option but to stand united against the common enemy
The Australian
But there is some debate over the group's motives.

Some commentators suggest Prime Minister John Howard's support for the Iraq war was the reason for the attack, which came exactly a month before Australia's general election on 9 October.

A former defence department official writing in Sydney's The Australian believes JI will have "watched and learned from the Madrid train bombings" which happened in March, days before the Spanish election.

"They will hope the attack dents Australian public support for our military presence in Iraq and for our counter-terrorist activities in Southeast Asia," the official says.

The Sydney Morning Herald believes the attack will strengthen Mr Howard's campaign to win a fourth term in office.

"His swift response to the explosion, his appropriate sympathy for the families of those Indonesians killed, and his government's record of effective co-operation with the Indonesian authorities after the Bali attacks are all likely to enhance this advantage," it says.

Standing strong

Others believe Australia's role in East Timor's successful bid for independence from Indonesia may have made it a target.

"Osama Bin Laden issued a clear statement that Australia would be targeted after its involvement in East Timor in 1999," recalls a terrorism expert writing in The Australian.

All papers agree that, whatever the motive for the attack, Australia and Indonesia must be unfaltering in their fight against the threat of Islamic militant.

"Yesterday's attack demonstrates that, in the war on terror, ordinary Australians and Indonesians alike have no option but to stand united against the common enemy," says The Australian.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Indonesia shares slip after blast
09 Sep 04  |  Business
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
15 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Embassy attack
09 Sep 04  |  In Pictures
Bali 'bomb-makers' still at large
09 Sep 04  |  Asia-Pacific


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