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Australia warns 'high risk of terrorism' at Games

world Updated: Sep 20, 2010 10:06 IST

Australia on Monday said there was a "high risk of terrorism" during next month's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, in a stark travel warning after gunmen wounded two tourists outside a famous mosque.

The foreign affairs department urged visitors to pay close attention to their safety "at all times" during the Games, after a tour bus was sprayed with sub-machinegun fire at Delhi's Jama Masjid.

"There is a high risk of terrorist attack in New Delhi," the department said in an updated bulletin.

"Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism," it added.

Two Taiwanese tourists were wounded, one seriously, after attackers on a motorbike opened fire Sunday, heightening security fears for the October 3-14 Games involving 7,000 athletes and officials, and fans from all over the world.

Two years ago, Islamist guerrillas from neighbouring Pakistan killed 166 people in a sustained attack which paralysed Mumbai, while India's parliament in Delhi was also overrun by armed extremists in 2001.

The Australia warning said Delhi had suffered "at least 14 major terrorist attacks" since 2000, causing "hundreds of deaths and injuries".

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key said sports chiefs would decide this week whether to send athletes to the Games, acting on the advice of security experts.

"We are providing the best advice we can to the New Zealand Olympic Committee who have to make that decision by September 24 whether to travel to Delhi or not," he said.

"One always takes these things seriously but we are also very hopeful that the Commonwealth Games will proceed, that New Zealand will go and do very well," he told reporters.

Australia on Sunday said it would not withdraw its athletes from the event and described the risk as "acceptable", in comments released before the Delhi shooting.

The assessment ran counter to the view of consultants from Homeland Security Asia-Pacific, who reportedly said dangerous failings at Delhi's major hotels, airport and public transport system meant an 80 percent chance of an attack.

Organisers of the Games, the most expensive in the history of the event and also far behind schedule and mired in corruption allegations, attempted to play down any threat.

"The shooting incident this morning in Delhi will have no impact on the Commonwealth Games," organising committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot said in a statement on Sunday.

"The ministry of home affairs and Delhi police have made elaborate arrangements to provide the Commonwealth Games athletes and officials a safe and secure environment."