08/25/2004, 00.00
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Shipping traffic in the Straits of Malacca targeted by terrorism

Jakarta (AsiaNews/AP) – The Straits of Malacca are a target for terrorist attacks," said A M Hendropriyono, chief of Indonesian intelligence. "Senior Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists now in detention have admitted that attacks on Malacca shipping traffic were contemplated in the recent past."

In an opinion piece for The Jakarta Post Hendropriyono urged Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, the three countries who share the straits, to cooperate with the US on international security and in the fight against terrorism.

US plans include stationing US troops in designated areas along the waterway or providing weapons and training to local governments. Indonesia and Malaysia have rejected US proposals which are only backed by Singapore.

For Hendropriyono, who is seen as a key pro-Washington official in the Indonesian administration, the threat of terrorism in the straits "is an all too real possibility."

Other Indonesian government officials and naval officers expressed doubts about possible terror attacks since blocking the Straits of Malacca or even hindering shipping in the waterway are nigh impossible.

Jemaah Islamiyah, said to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, has been responsible for several terror attacks in South-East Asia including the Bali bombings that killed 190 people in October 2002.

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