A suspected terrorist group identifying itself as “Allah” has reportedly threatened to attack Western embassies in Phnom Penh over their role in the war in Iraq, news reports and an Australian Embassy spokesperson said Monday.
The threat to attack the embassies of Australia, Canada, the US and other Western countries, both in Cambodia and elsewhere, came in the form of a letter sent in April to Canadian officials in Cambodia, according to news reports.
British, Canadian and US embassy officials in Phnom Penh declined comment, and a copy of the threatening letter was not made available Monday.
Cambodian government officials also said they didn’t know about the threat.
“The Australian Embassy was aware of the threat and responded accordingly,” an Australian Embassy spokesperson said Monday by telephone.
The spokesperson declined to say whether the letter was sent from a domestic or international group and would not comment on the embassy’s assessment of the threat but encouraged people to consult Australia’s travel advisory.
Canadian Ambassador Donica Pottie referred questions back to the Australian Embassy, which is located in the same compound and is responsible for the Canadian Embassy’s security.
US Embassy Spokesman David Gainer declined comment on the threat, but added: “Our cooperation on counter-terrorism with the Canadian, Australian and other allied embassies, and the Royal Government of Cambodia, remains excellent.”
Although the terror threat made international headlines on Monday, Cambodian government officials said they were unaware of the reports.
“None of the embassies in Cambodia have given any sign [of a terrorist threat] to us,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng, who works on terrorism issues.
“Our work to protect [the embassies] is done regularly,” he added.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he had no information on the threat, referring questions to the police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Municipal Police Chief Heng Pov said he did not know about the threat.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hem Heng also said he had no information on the case.
However, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told reporters on Monday that security at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh was bolstered following the threat, CNN reported.
Street 254 on which the Canadian and Australian Embassies are located has been blocked off to traffic since last year.
On Monday, security guards used mirrors to check beneath the body work of cars passing a concrete checkpoint on the street, but the number of guards there has not been increased recently, security guard Leng Kea said.
Leng Kea added that he had heard from people outside the embassy about a threat to attack, but not from embassy officials.
Security guard Phang Veasna also said he had not received official notification of the threat.
“I heard from outsiders that there is a threat but the embassy doesn’t say anything,” he said.
At a residential compound where Australian Embassy officials live, security staff there also said on Monday that they didn’t know about the threat.