Fri, 12 Sep 2003

Mega backs endless war on terror

Agencies, Jakarta

As the world commemorated the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, President Megawati Soekarnoputri called on the people on Thursday to remain vigilant in fighting terrorism.

"We have to keep the spirit in fighting terrorism, do not ever take the issue lightly and only worry after something happens," the President said on Thursday.

Speaking before a group of bankers, Megawati, who had been criticized for her sluggish response to terrorist threats, said that there should be constant and tighter security measures to ensure the safety of the people.

"We are all aware that terrorism plagues the world that we are living, so how far do we protect ourselves against these threats?" she asked.

Her comments were made on the two year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, from over 90 countries, including Indonesia.

Indonesia also suffered from the Oct. 12 Bali blast, which killed more than 200 people, and the Aug. 5 JW Marriott hotel bombing that claimed 12 innocent lives.

Two of the key defendants in the Bali bombing trial have been sentenced to death.

The country has been requiring most buildings to tighten security measures.

"We have to begin from the smallest things such as ensuring constant security checking in every building around the country," the President said.

The United States Embassy here has said it would not hold any special commemoration.

"We will not hold any commemoration or special function to commemorate the tragedy," embassy spokesman, Stanley Harsha, said on Thursday as quoted by Antara.

The embassy will only hold an internal commemoration, without any special activity, he said without giving details.

Meanwhile, in Khartoum, Sudan, Vice President Hamzah Haz said that international cooperation in fighting terrorism should also cover preventive measures.

Governments across eastern Asia urged more cooperation against terrorists while people in some of the 90 countries who lost their citizens laid wreaths for the Sept. 11 victims. Australian Prime Minister John Howard warned that the battle against terror would not end any time soon.

"This war against terrorism is likely to go on for years and nobody can regard themselves as beyond the reach of terrorism," Howard told Sky News Television.

"We need to find ways of further cooperation, particularly at a police and intelligence level."

In China's Muslim northwest, the regional Communist Party secretary seized the occasion of the Sept. 11 anniversary to warn that separatists in the country's Xinjiang region were getting training from international terrorists, including at "several training camps in Pakistan."

"We have found some training camps in Xinjiang after the Sept. 11 incident," he said as quoted by Associated Press, saying that the government's successful efforts to battle forces opposed to Beijing's rule were being undermined by assistance from the terrorists abroad.

Across Japan, people paid their respects at memorials to the thousands, including 24 Japanese, who perished.

"The threat of international terrorism still remains serious," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told reporters. "Japan will further strengthen cooperation with other countries and continue to tackle the problem."

Ceremonies were also held in other parts of Asia, but no reports of an official one in Indonesia.

At the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, U.S. Charge d' Affairs Joseph Mussomeli laid a wreath at the base of the mission's flagpole, where the U.S. flag was at half mast.