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Australia Reassesses Its Security

October 14, 2002|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian government Sunday launched a national security review and pledged a measured but "powerful" response to a car bombing in Bali, Indonesia, that killed more than 180 people, many of them believed to be Australian tourists.

The blast that ripped through two nightclubs in Kuta also shattered the widely held view here that Australia's geographic isolation protected it from terrorist attacks.

"People should get out of their minds that it can't happen here. It can, and it has happened to our own on our doorstep," Prime Minister John Howard said. He met security advisors late Sunday and called an emergency meeting of a key security committee for early today.

"This is a huge national tragedy for Australia and for Australians," Howard said.

The prime minister, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led war on terror, rejected any link between his strong backing of Washington and the Bali attack.

Howard said he wanted "a measured, sensible but powerful reaction" to the bombing.

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