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01 Jan 2002 00:00
Australia became the second country yesterday to say that it has received intelligence that the popular Thai resort of Phuket is a potential terrorist target.
Despite the British government’s continued insistence that there is no direct threat against the holiday resort, Australia’s foreign minister, Alexander Downer, said: “We know from the Bali experience that you can’t be too cautious, and we have had some information in relation to Phuket, and Phuket is a favoured holiday resort for Australians.”
A representative for the foreign affairs department confirmed that the warning was based on specific Australian intelligence about an attack on the island, which attracts up to three million tourists a year.
The department said the information had been gained in the past 24 hours. Similar advice was issued by the Danish government on Wednesday about threats to Thai resorts, including Patong beach on Phuket.
Asked again by the Guardian newspaper yesterday about the warnings, the Foreign Office confirmed that it was not naming any locations in its travel advice for Thailand.
It said it had issued new advice for Thailand on October 18 stating that the threat had “increased significantly”.
A representative said the government was aware of the advice given by other countries to their citizens but Whitehall had no reason to change its views.
Australia has warned travellers to “exercise extreme caution” in Thailand, but has stopped short of urging its citizens to leave the country.
In response, the Thai government deputy representative, Sansanee Nakpong, said the government was “confident about Phuket’s safety” and that authorities were “on maximum alert”.
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