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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Australia backs UK terror fight
Australian Prime Minister John Howard reacts to the bombs in London
John Howard said he still planned to visit the UK later this month
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has called on the world to stand firm in the face of terrorism, in the wake of the London bomb attacks.

He said he had information the official death toll would rise to 52. The UK has so far confirmed 37 people were killed.

Mr Howard said Australians felt a deep sympathy for the UK, because so many of them had visited. Seven of his compatriots were hurt in the attacks.

Australia's own terror alert level has not been raised following the blasts.

Mr Howard said there was no specific intelligence suggesting the explosions in London increased the chance of a similar attack in his country.

'Unforgivable act'

But, he went on: "I must, nonetheless, say that this country could be the subject of an attack like this."

Mr Howard earlier said the attacks would not affect Australia's commitments elsewhere in the world.

His country has, like the UK, been a staunch ally of the US in its war on terror and in Iraq, where more than 800 Australian troops are deployed.

Security on Australia's public transport has now been stepped up.

Mr Howard said it was "of some concern" that authorities in London had no advance intelligence of the attacks, and condemned those responsible for the bombs.

"This brutal, indiscriminate, unforgivable attack on people going about their daily lives is a mark of the depraved character of the people who carried these out," he said.

He said Australians felt a particular sympathy for the British because of a connection going back generations. Some 300,000 Australians currently live and work in the UK, most in London.

Mr Howard said he would not be changing his plans to travel to Britain later this month, following talks in Washington.

Australia is to send a team of five police, including bomb and counter-terrorism experts, to London to help with inquiries.

Its officers helped investigate the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, where 88 Australians were among the 202 killed.


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