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Australia issues warning amid security review
( 2003-12-22 13:52) (Agencies)

Australia is reviewing its security and has issued new warnings for Australians traveling to the United States and Britain after Washington raised its terror alert to the second highest level.

Washington warned its citizens on Sunday that there was a high risk of attacks by militants during the holidays. The United States uses a five-level scale to define its security risk.

Australia -- a close U.S. ally -- has been on a medium level security alert, the second lowest of four levels, since the September 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the United States.

"It is something we have got under review given the American internal security alerts, but there is no intention to raise our security alert at present," a spokesman for acting Attorney General, Justice Minister Chris Ellison, said on Monday.

"We don't have information to indicate that our threat level should be changed at present."

Australians traveling to the United States and Britain were warned by Australia's foreign ministry on Monday to be alert, monitor news broadcasts and be aware of any public announcements on safety made by the U.S. and British governments.

Australia has never experienced a major terror attack on home soil but 88 Australians were among over 200 people killed in October 2002 when bombs ripped through nightclubs packed with foreign tourists on the neighboring Indonesian island of Bali.

The United States lifted its alert level on Sunday to orange from yellow, the fifth time the orange alert has been activated since the system began in March last year, and said militants could be planning an attack to rival the September 11 attacks.

Orange denotes a "high risk" of attacks, while yellow means there is a "significant or elevated" risk. Experts have said the top alert -- red -- of the five level scale would only be declared if and attack on U.S. soil were imminent or underway.

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