Friday, October 01, 2004

High alert

US military bases in South Korea are on high alert against terrorist attack:

American installations in South Korea went on a state of high alert last week after intelligence was received that a terrorist attack might be planned in retaliation for the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq.

More than 33,000 U.S. troops, along with family members, civilians and some military contractors, have had a 9 p.m. curfew since Sept. 24. Roadblocks and armored vehicles have cropped up around U.S. facilities here and access to bases has been restricted, and the South Korean government has increased security around its diplomatic establishments abroad.

U.S. officials have tried to downplay the measures as routine precautions, but people affected say security here is the tightest since just after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A South Korean official said that in recent weeks very "specific intelligence" had been received from the United States, Australia and Indonesia and other countries warning of possible attacks against American and South Korean targets.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul issued an unusually strong advisory warning American citizens of the increased threat of "suicide operations, bombings or kidnappings" and said that attacks "may involve aviation and other transportation and maritime interests." The statement attributed the alert to "indications that Al Qaeda and other terror groups continue to prepare to strike U.S. interests" and to the deployment of Korean troops to Iraq.