US Issues Europe Travel Alert

World | October 4, 2010, Monday // 07:20|  views

The advisory is not meant to tell Americans to avoid travel i Europe, but to take common-sense precautions in case of trouble, US officials said. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The United States issued a general travel alert for Americans in Europe on Sunday amid concerns that al Qaeda or related groups plan attacks similar to the 2008 massacre in the Indian city of Mumbai.

"US citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling," the notice from the U.S. State Department said.

"We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al Qaeda."

The advisory is not meant to tell Americans to avoid travel, but to take "common-sense precautions" in case of trouble, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy told reporters Sunday.

"If they see unattended packages or hear loud noises or see something beginning to happen that they should quickly move away from them," he said. The warning urges them to be cautious in public places like tourist sites and airports or while riding public transportation, and Americans should know how to contact the US Embassy and consider registering their travel plans there, he said.

News emerged last week that US intelligence officials were looking at information about a possible "Mumbai-style" attack in cities across Europe, and a British security source said Saturday that intelligence related to such a plot was being looked at very seriously on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mumbai, India's financial hub, was the site of a three-day terror attack in November 2008 that left more than 160 people dead. Ten men launched the carefully planned assault, targeting two major hotels, the historic Victoria Terminus train station and a Jewish cultural center.

Several European governments said Sunday that they are not raising their already-high alert levels as a result of the latest reports. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday that the US advisory was "in line with the general recommendations that we have addressed to the French population."

"The indications provided by the U.S. authorities, in particular regarding terrorist threat in Europe are, of course analyzed, cross-referenced and where appropriate included in our national assessment of the threat, which still relies on a series of elements," the ministry said. "The terrorist threat remains high in France, the alert level remains unchanged at level red."

Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office changed its travel advisory for British citizens in France and Germany from a "substantial" threat of terrorism to a "high" threat, but the FCO said it does not comment on intelligence matters and thus can't specify whether the change is related to the U.S. travel alert.

Germany's interior ministry said in a statement that the warning for Americans comes in light of recent threats and that Berlin was informed by the U.S. of the decision to issue the alert. Germany will analyze and evaluate the intelligence data coming in but will not be changing its current threat level at this time, according to the statement.

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Tags: Germany, French, Britain, Europeans, europe, United States, US, Al Qaeda


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