But the threat remains of critical international concern said the US State Department in its annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report released on Thursday.

A total of 307 people, including 35 Americans, were killed and 1593 wounded in 190 terrorist attacks around the world in 2003.

While the number of attacks dropped by only eight from 2002, that represents a 45% decrease from the 346 strikes recorded in 2001, including the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington, the report said.

The number of fatalities fell by nearly 58%, from 725, and the number of injuries declined by nearly 21%, from 2013, according to the report.

But the Bush administration has continued to drive home the threat of international terrorism and pushed for greater surveillance and security powers.

The United States on Thursday issued a new global terrorism alert warning US citizens of an increased threat in attacks and violent anti-American demonstrations.

At the same time, the State Department also renewed a regional terrorism advisory for the Middle East and North Africa, citing similar concerns that extend to the Red Sea, Gulf and Arabian peninsula.

American targets

US interests were targeted by "terrorists" 82 times in 2003, five more times than in 2002, but a 62% decrease from the 219 attacks in 2001, it said.

Asia was the site for the most
attacks in 2003

Regionally, Asia was the site of the most attacks and the highest casualty count in 2003, with 70 attacks that killed 159 people and wounded 951 being recorded for the year, it said.

Latin America and the Middle East followed, with 53 and 37 attacks, respectively, but the strikes in the Middle East were far deadlier, with 142 people killed there last year, according to the report.

Only three people were killed in Latin American terrorist attacks in 2003, it said.

Despite the statistical drops, the report warned that unless all nations continue to improve cooperation and build anti-terror capacity, the numbers are likely to rise again in coming years.

"The fight will be of uncertain duration, but additional deadly attacks are certain," said  Cofer Black, the State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism.