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Howard renews terror warning

By CNN's Grant Holloway in Sydney

Howard
Prime Minister Howard comforts a mourner at the Bali sunset service for victims

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KUTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard has warned that more terror attacks in Southeast Asia are "very, very likely" and Westerners would be the probable targets.

Howard told a media conference in Bali Friday that the situation, particularly in Indonesia, is regretfully "a lot more dangerous than it was."

The prime minister repeated warnings for Australians in Indonesia to exercise extreme care and to leave the country if necessary.

He said that Australia had repeated its view to Indonesia "urgently and strongly" that a tougher approach to terrorism was needed in the republic and he was pleased with the response so far to those urgings.

Thirty three Australians are confirmed dead and a further 114 are still unaccounted for after a series of bomb blasts in the tourist precinct of Kuta in Bali Saturday night.

More than 180 people are thought to have died in the blasts, most of them foreign tourists.

Speaking earlier on commercial radio, Howard said the new terror warnings had strong anti-Western connotations.

This was of particular concern to Australia because they are the most numerous Westerners in the republic, with about 10,000 estimated to live or work there, excluding Bali.

"The reality is that terrorism has an anti-Western flavor and we are Westerners and we are very numerous in Indonesia and we just have to understand that we are in a new ball game," Howard said.

"The warning is clear and simple, it is dangerous and people should avoid going to Indonesia unless they don't believe it is unavoidable," he said.

He said people who were now there for short period of time, they should consider bringing forward their plans to return to Australia.

"It is simply not wise to go there (Indonesia) and if you can make arrangements to come back you should do so as soon as possible," he said.

Howard on Friday toured the site at Kuta in Indonesia where more than 180 people were killed by bomb blasts last weekend.

He earlier attended a sunset service for those killed, the majority of whom were Australian tourists.

The Australian leader laid a wreath at the service which was attended by about 200 relatives and friends of those killed and injured.

Howard also sought to reassure Australians that those responsible for the bombings would be caught.

"I can on behalf of all the people of Australia declare to you that we will do everything in our power to bring to justice those who were responsible for this foul deed," he said.

"I know the anguish that so many are feeling, the painful process of identification which has prolonged that agony for so many, the sense of bewilderment and disbelief that so many young lives with so much before them should have been taken away in such blind fury, hatred and violence."

Howard made his decision to go to Bali amid increasing anger from Australians over the sensitive issue of repatriating the remains of loved ones.

Some Australians in Bali have criticized the administration of the identification process, accusing Indonesian and Australian authorities of incompetence and calling on the prime minister to intervene. (Lengthy wait)

The prime minister discussed the issue with families of victims on Thursday evening and explained the difficulties and the processes involved to them.

He said the process was being sped up as much as possible and additional Australian experts had been flown to Bali to assist in the identification work.

But he warned it would still be "some time" before there was a significant number of positive identifications.

Howard is not travelling on to Jakarta from Bali and will be back in Australia for the official "day of mourning" being held on Sunday.

He earlier asked Australians to observe a minute's silence at 12 noon Australian Eastern Standard Time (0200 GMT) and to wear a sprig of the native wattle flower as a personal gesture of remembrance.

Church leaders of all denominations and faiths have been asked to include a reference to the Bali atrocity in their services.



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