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Japan issues terror alert for citizens
( 2003-11-18 14:24) (AP)

Alarmed by threats purportedly made by the al-Qaeda terrorist network to attack U.S. allies, the Japanese has issued an alert for its citizens traveling or living abroad.

In an advisory posted on the Japan's Foreign Ministry Web site Monday, the ministry urged Japanese tourists and residents to use "utmost caution."

"In light of the statement purportedly by al-Qaeda threatening terror attacks, please obtain the latest information, stay away from facilities that are likely to become terror targets, use caution in crowded places and pay attention to what's around you to avoid possible terror attacks or any other trouble," it said.

The alert was issued after two London-based Arabic-language newspapers received separate statements over the weekend threatening car bomb attacks against the United States, Britain, Italy, Australia and Japan.

The threats in the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi and weekly Al-Majallah came after Tokyo said last week it would delay but not abandon plans to send peacekeepers because of deteriorating security in southern Iraq.

According to Al-Majallah, an alleged al-Qaeda operative identified as Abu Mohamed al-Ablaj in an e-mail warned Tokyo against sending troops to Iraq to help with postwar reconstruction.

The statements claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 23 people in Turkey on Saturday and the Nov. 12 car bombing outside the Italian police headquarters in Iraq that claimed more than 30 lives. They also contained a direct warning to U.S. President Bush and his allies.

Japan doesn't use a terror alert system, but the government believes it has taken steps to improve security since the September 2001 attacks in the United States, officials said.

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