July 10, 2004

Korean ships respond to terror threat

The Yonhap news agency reports that the South Korean government today ordered Korean ships not to allow crews to leave ships when docked in Arab Gulf ports.

The Ministry of Merchant Marine and Fisheries said there had been no specific terrorist threats against South Korean vessels but it was prudent to take precautions.

Companies have also been instructed to take a number of other measures to beef up security, including keeping ship-to-ship communications open at all times.

The security clampdown follows reports Friday that an Islamic terrorist group has recently warned it would attack ships delivering U.S. military equipment to Iraq.

"We obtained the information via United States spy agencies," the Korea Times quotes an official at the National Intelligence Service (NIS) as saying. "The terrorist organization said in its message that it would blow up any ships if they are found carrying U.S. military materials."

The Korea Times story notes that South Korea plans to send about 3,000 soldiers to the northern Iraqi town of Irbil starting from next month and has recently begun sending military equipment.

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