U.S. PACIFIC TERRITORIES INCREASE SECURITY

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Radio Australia Pacific Beat Melbourne, Australia

September 12, 2001

In the Pacific region, American territories are having both an emotional and logistical reaction to the tragic events in New York and Washington.

Security has been stepped up in the American Pacific territory of Guam, where U.S. Navy and Air Force bases are on high alert against possible terrorist attacks.

The residents of Guam and American Samoa are also turning to their churches to express their sadness, shock and sympathy for those who have lost their lives.

This report from the Pacific Beat program begins with an official statement from Senior Airman Les Waters, from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam.

"Anderson Air Force base is at the highest state of alert. We are taking preventative increased force protection measures to ensure the safety and security of our people and military installation. People attempting to enter the base -- the military bases -- can expect significant delays and increased traffic as the security forces implement their security procedures."

The stepped up security at both Navy and Air Force installations in Guam is a result of a decision by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who ordered that all U.S. military to be placed in force protection "delta," which is considered the Department of Defense's highest level of alert against terrorism.

Nowhere in the Pacific has the terrorist scare been felt more keenly, with Guam's status as an American territory, along with its increasing strategic military role, making the island a prime target for international terrorism.

Guam Airport Closed

Guam's domestic airport was closed down at 1:20 local time on Wednesday morning, on advice of Federal authorities.

Jerry Yingling is the Guam International Airport executive manager.

"The terminal has been basically locked down once the airlines here found accommodations for all of their passengers, the stranded passengers," he says.

"We have examined the entire concourse and the entire terminal area and only people that have business in the airport -- either airport employees or airline employees -- can come and go. There's no commercial flights allowed to leave. The only exceptions to any flight in this area or any area, any American airspace from what I understand at this point, is that it's either a law enforcement agency airplane related to the investigation of the incident, or medical evacuations exemption. And Guam's already had a medical evac this morning."

Business As Usual

Government spokesman John Ryan says for the most part people are trying to go about their normal routine.

"It hasn’t had any direct impact on life in Guam for most of us yet other than there are tourists who had checked out of their hotels and were at the airport and ready to leave," he says.

"There are Department of Defense schools for the children of military people who are stationed here from the mainland and those schools were closed today. However, the public schools, the Guam public schools that are operated by the government of Guam for the entire civilian community, remained open. We’ve tried to go about business as usual and as normal as possible today because we feel it’s the best course of approach at this time."

But business as usual should not suggest Guam residents have not been profoundly affected by the terrorist attacks.

Turning To Prayer

Father Dave Quitugua, Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hagatna, has organized two special masses to offer prayers to the victims of the tragedy.

"Although we are geographically very distant from Washington, D.C. and New York, we do have a lot of people with friends. I personally know some people in New York, in Boston, in Washington, D.C. and it’s our way of reaching out also," he says. "We may be a small community but the world is becoming a smaller place so we do have that connection."

Church services have also been held in American Samoa where the Catholic clergy are planning a meeting for Thursday to look at what else needs to be done regarding the tragedy.

Father Stefani Luamanu says the disaster has stunned the people of American Samoa.

"The people here in my country are very silent. There are almost no cars running around because we are all staying home to watch the news," he says. "Some parents have children in the military and their relatives in the United States so they asked me early in the morning to say them mass -- say prayers for the intention of those people who died and injured people.

"We are all sad because most of the Samoan people are living there and working. Also my brothers and sisters are in the military there. So we are now continuing to pray for God for help.

"We're all so...I don't know how to explain this kind of thing happening there in another country."

 

U.S. STEPS UP SECURITY AT EMBASSY IN FIJI

By Joycelyn Narayan Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 12, 2001 – Wansolwara Online/Pasifik Nius)---Security will be stepped up in and around the United States Embassy in Fiji as a result of the terrorist attacks in the U.S.

The First Secretary at Suva's U.S. Embassy, Edmond Seay, told Wansolwara Online that the embassy had reviewed its security regulations.

"Security regulations have been reviewed at embassies around the world . . . and we have been alert for any unusual signs or danger," said Seay.

Seay also said that the U.S. had not asked the Fiji government for help in terms of added police patrols, as its own security operations were "pretty tight" and sufficient to handle the crisis.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Loftus Street in downtown Suva, near Fiji Broadcasting House, and the area has been closed off to motorists ever since the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998.

There were media reports of Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden being hidden in Fiji's remote uninhabited islands early last year, which gave more cause for Loftus Street to remain closed off.

Bin Laden was blamed for the 1998 terrorist attack in Nairobi and is also a suspect in the attacks in New York and on the Pentagon.

However, USP history-politics academic Dr. Robert Nicole warned the U.S. not to be "too hasty" in condemning anyone for the attacks just yet.

"There have been calls from various quarters to have a measured response and not to jump to conclusions," said Dr. Nicole.

"Bush tends to be supported by certain hardliners in the military and they could push for an immediate response without any absolute certainty about who was behind the attacks," he said.

Title -- 3420 TERRORISM: US step up security at embassy in Fiji Date -- 12 September 2001 Byline – Joycelyn Narayan Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wansolwara Online, 12/9/01 Copyright -- USP Journalism Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/ USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/ USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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