Israel and other countries warned Argentina Friday to expect a new attack after an anti-Jewish blast that killed nearly 100 people last month and put Buenos Aires on the brink of a break with Iran.
The government of President Carlos Menem, announcing what it described as a concrete threat, said it had to warn the population so it would not be alarmed by unspecified extraordinary security measures.An Iranian carrying a forged French passport was arrested shortly before the announcement as he tried to board a boat headed for neighboring Uruguay, the Argentine coast guard said.
Emergency rooms at Buenos Aires hospitals went on red alert, and a government statement said 33 hospitals with 150 surgery rooms and 250 emergency doctors were part of an emergency scheme in anticipation of the predicted attack.
A team of 30 rescuers trained to shore up buildings and sift through rubble was put on standby, the government said.
Civil defense teams were also put on alert, and two helicopters and two planes were included in the preparations.
"The information was obtained and confirmed by national and international intelligence organizations of the utmost reliability," a government statement said. "The concrete threat is not limited to Argentine territory, and terrorist action could extend to some neighboring countries."
The statement mentioned only Israel among the states that had warned Argentina, leaving the others anonymous for what it described as "security and operational reasons."
The dramatic warning was made as doubts grew about the credibility of Argentina's sole witness against four Iranian officials sought for last month's attack.