A recently reported threat to attack Western embassies in Phnom Penh was likely made by an individual angry with the US invasion of Iraq and was probably not a warning by an international terrorist group, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday.
The threat should not be cause for alarm, he added.
International news outlets, picking up on a report in an Australian newspaper, reported Monday that a suspected terrorist group identifying itself as “Allah” had threatened to attack the embassies of Australia, Canada, the US and other Western countries both in Cambodia and elsewhere.
“Don’t be worried,” Khieu Sopheak said by telephone. “The barking dog does not bite” he said.
Attacks by al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah in New York and Bali have shown that terrorist groups that are seriously planning to attack targets don’t give advance warnings, Khieu Sopheak said.
Khieu Sopheak said that the threat was originally made in an e-mail message sent from Cambodia to the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok. The e-mail was forwarded to Cambodia’s Interior Ministry by Thai authorities in April, he said.
“Cambodia is a peaceful country not harmed by terrorist activity,” he said.
Though the government is continuing to investigate the threat, Khieu Sopheak said that he was concerned that widespread media reports about the threat will damage Cambodia’s international reputation and ward off tourists.
The Canadian Embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed Wednesday that the e-mail was originally received by Canada’s embassy in Bangkok but declined further comment because the issue is related to security.
The Australian and US embassies both declined comment on Wednesday.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that security at the Australian Embassy was boosted following the threat, which CNN reported Monday.
But security guards at the embassy said that they had not received official notification of the threat and added that the number of guards outside the embassy has not recently been increased.
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