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Australia Issues Fresh Advisory On Terror Threats In Delhi

Melblourne, Sept 29: Australian government today issued fresh warnings to its citizens travelling to India to exercise "high degree of caution" due to "high risk of terrorist attack" during the Commonwealth Games and in view
PTI September 29, 2010 16:50 IST
PTI
Melblourne, Sept 29: Australian government today issued fresh warnings to its citizens travelling to India to exercise "high degree of caution" due to "high risk of terrorist attack" during the Commonwealth Games and in view of possible tensions following the Ayodhya issue verdict. 

However, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia's travel advisory to citizens travelling to India was not a "slight" against the government of the country or its people but meant to help travellers make an informed decision.  Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued explicit warnings asking people not to visit tourist hotspots, including the popular Red Fort in Delhi.

  "Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism," it said, adding: "terrorists could hit Delhi at any time". 

 The latest advice alerts Australians to the fact that there have been 14 terror attacks in New Delhi since 2000.

  "We continue to receive reporting that terrorists plan to attack public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities," the statement read. 

Visitors are warned about a wide range of places to potentially avoid.  According to DFAT, possible targets include tourist sites, commercial areas, public spaces, diplomatic premises, places known to be frequented by foreigners, restaurants and cafes, prominent government buildings such as the Parliament among others.

 It also noted that the Allahabad High Court is expected to pronounce its verdict on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, an issue which has sparked communal riots in the past. 

"Australians are urged to monitor developments surrounding the release of the decision and to follow the advice of local authorities," it said. 

While the advisory advised caution to its citizens, Gillard, who had last week publicly voiced safety and security concerns, sought to play it down as she referred to the advisory during a parliament session.  Gillard said: "this advice is not meant as a slight on the government and people of India, who are our good friends and partners".

 "Our travel advice is our best factual assessment of the situation on ground in the country concerned... It is not a judgement or a criticism, it is simply a service provided to help travellers make an informed decision," she said. 

Reacting to Gillard's statement last week, India had said that it has taken effective measures to ensure safety and security of all during the forthcoming CWGs.

 The Australian premier said the travel advice would continue to be reviewed regularly.  "I would encourage all Australians in India, or people intending to travel to India, to read the updated advice carefully.

 "That advice states that Australians should exercise a high degree of caution in India...  the updated advice also notes that some public places should be avoided," Gillard said. 

She said the Australian government has been working closely with the Indian authorities on Games security since early 2009.  "A taskforce has been set up to provide travellers with the best available information which is contained in the India travel advice and a Commonwealth Games bulletin on the DFAT website," she told the parliament. PTI