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 Travel alert issued for U.S. citizens in Europe

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PostSubject: Travel alert issued for U.S. citizens in Europe   Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:09 am

Travel alert issued for U.S. citizens in Europe

[CNN) -- The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens in Europe, based on information that suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks.

Americans are warned to be aware of their surroundings and protect themselves when traveling, especially when they are in public places like tourist sites, airports or when they are using public transportation.

The alert does not warn U.S. citizens against travel to Europe.

Britain's Home Office has not raised its threat level. A statement released Sunday confirms that British authorities are keeping their threat level at "'severe," which means than an attack is highly likely.

But, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has changed its travel advisory for British citizens in France and Germany from a "substantial" threat of terrorism to a "high" threat. 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.

Also, a spokeswoman for Spain's Interior Ministry told CNN that the country will remain at Level 2 alert, which indicates a "high, probable risk" of a terror attack. Spain has remained at this stage since January of this year.

The U.S. State Department, meantime, recommends that Americans register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and urges citizens to get information on general security issues at the Department's website.

One senior U.S. official said Saturday that, in addition to the travel alert from the State Department, "U.S. military installations are taking prudent precautions. This is a serious situation."

A separate U.S. official said Saturday that the alert is being prompted by the volume of intelligence on possible terror threats, rather than new intelligence.

It emerged last week that U.S. intelligence officials were looking at information about a possible "Mumbai-style" attack in cities across Europe.

A United Kingdom security source said Saturday that intelligence related to the possible Mumbai-style attack was being looked at very seriously on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mumbai, the financial hub of India, was the site of a three-day terror attack two years ago that left more than 160 people dead.

Ten men launched the carefully planned assault, targeting prominent sites such as the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, the Oberoi-Trident hotels, the historic Victoria Terminus train station and a Jewish cultural center.

A possible backlash from the French burqa ban is considered a factor in the expected warning, the security source said. The French Senate recently approved a law banning veils that cover the face, including the burqa, worn by some Muslim women.

Separately, Italian police told CNN Sunday that they have detained an Algerian national suspected of being a member of al Qaeda. No further information on the arrest was made available.

CNN's Bharati Naik and Al Goodman contributed to this report.

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