311_French defending their souvenirs from tourists.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Sunday warned Americans of potential terrorist threats in Europe and urged them to be vigilant in public places, including tourist spots and transportation hubs.
A State Department travel alert advises US citizens living or traveling in Europe to take more precautions about their personal security. The alert is one step below a formal travel warning advising Americans not to visit Europe.
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"Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks," it said. "European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions."
It noted in particular "the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure."
"US citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling," the department said.
Britain's Foreign Office upgraded its travel advice for France and Germany, warning Britons going to those countries that the threat of terrorism there is high. Before Sunday's change, the government's travel advice for France and Germany was that the threat from terror attacks there was "general."
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May said that the threat of terrorism
in the UK remains unchanged at "severe," meaning an attack is highly
US and European security experts have been concerned for days that
terrorists may be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons on
public places, similar to the deadly 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai,
The alert fell short of a formal travel warning, which could have
broader implications including a stronger likelihood of canceled airline
and hotel bookings, and wasn't intended to urge travelers to stay away
from public places. Europeans and some members of the Obama
administration had viewed that as an overreaction.