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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
UK 'had no Bali warning'
Baroness Amos
Baroness Amos laid a wreath at the site of the bombing
The UK Government had "no specific warnings" of an imminent attack on Bali, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

There was "generic threat information" which covered Bali and other islands in Indonesia, he said.


This continued confusion is not fair to those injured or who have lost loved ones

Michael Ancram
Shadow foreign secretary

His attempt to clear up confusion about what travel advice the government has failed to quell Conservative criticism.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram accused Mr Straw of making the confusion worse and demanded the minister make a full Commons statement on the issue.

Earlier, Mr Straw insisted: "We had no specific warnings of an attack in Bali. We didn't have any warnings. The US didn't, Australia didn't. It was for that reason we issued no warnings."

Visiting Bali, UK Foreign Minister Baroness Amos has also apologised there on behalf of the government for a "lack of coordination" in the support given to victims' families.

Lady Amos, who laid a wreath at the scene of the attack, said relatives were being put under undue pressure trying to find those who died.

Staff had done their best to deal with what was a "chaotic situation", she said, but the process had now been strengthened.

More attacks 'planned'

On Thursday, Britons were warned against all travel to Indonesia in the wake of the atrocity.

Any UK citizens in the country have also been advised to leave unless their presence is essential.

Helpline numbers
British Consulate: 00 62 361270572
Foreign Office: 0207 0080000

Dozens of Britons were being flown home on Friday after tour companies decided to evacuate all British holidaymakers still on the island.

But there is still a dispute over what warnings were issued before the bomb.

The government says a "generic" warning about Indonesia was posted on the Foreign Office website on 27 August, but this did not mention Bali by name.

That came after a warning from US intelligence in August about possible attacks in several "hotspots", including Bali.

'Best available information'

Mr Straw said he understood the "profound anger" of the victims' relatives about what warnings the government was given.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, he said: "In none of those travel advisories, neither Australia, the US nor us, did we come to separate judgements that Bali was unsafe.

Baroness Amos
UK Foreign Office Minister Lady Amos surveys the devastation
"Obviously, I wish to God that we had intelligence which would have enabled us to do so.

"I fully understand the deep anger of the relatives.

"By God, I'd be angry if I was in that situation about the fact that they have lost their loved ones and they ask questions ... about well, what did the authorities know.

"I ask the same questions ... I am satisfied that the three intelligence sources - here, in Australia and the United States - came to the best judgements they could on the available information."

BBC correspondent Richard Galpin, in Bali, said there was much concern among victims' families about whether the UK, Australian and US Governments had given people enough warning of a potential attack.

Michael Ancram said Mr Straw had now contradicted his earlier statements about what the government knew.

Candles are lit for victims of the bomb at a memorial service in Bali
Candles are lit for victims of the bomb at a memorial service in Bali
"This continued confusion is neither in the public interest nor fair to those injured or who have lost loved ones in this vile and cowardly terrorist outrage," he said.

Mr Ancram has written to Mr Straw asking for a Commons statement on what information was available, when it was available and what action it prompted.

Earlier, Downing Street tried to remove any confusion by underlining Mr Straw's message that there had been general warnings but no evidence of a specific threat.

Tony Blair's official spokesman said a balance had to be struck because terrorists wanted to frighten people out of going about their normal lives.

Care was needed, but there had to be a sense of perspective, he added.

On Friday, the Foreign Office said there were 11 Britons confirmed dead and 21 officially missing.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clive Myrie
"Mr Howard said he understood the anguish of the relatives of victims"
The BBC's Carole Walker
"There is real concern in Downing Street that people think they knew something like this might happen"
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Straw denies specific Bali 'warning'

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18 Oct 02 | Politics
18 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Oct 02 | England
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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