Saturday 3 December 2016

US issues travel alert for Europe as threat of holiday attacks rises

Europe Travel Alert

Published 23/11/2016 | 10:02

Cologne Christmas Market
Cologne Christmas Market

The US Department of State has warned of a "heightened risk" of terrorist attacks in Europe during the holiday season.

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The State Department issued an alert to US citizens, advising them to "exercise caution" during holiday festivals, events and outdoor markets throughout Europe.

It also recommends having "an emergency plan of action ready".

"Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da'esh), al-Qa'ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events," it states.

Extremist sympathisers or self-radicalised extremists may conduct attacks "with little or no warning" during the holiday period, it continues.

"Terrorists may employ a wide variety of tactics, using both conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests."

Belgium, France, Germany and Turkey have all suffered high-profile terrorist attacks in the past year, but precautions are advised throughout Europe.

A similar alert was issued this spring following several attacks, and immediately in the wake of the March 22 Brussels attacks.

US travellers are advised to avoid large crowds and be vigilant when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites or using public transportation.

They are also counselled to follow the instruction of local authorities, stay in touch with family and "have an emergency plan of action ready".

The alert is due to expire on February 20, 2017.

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