Friday, April 25, 2008

US warns of 'heightened risk' of terror strike in China

The US government on Friday warned Americans travelling to China of a "heightened risk" of a terrorist attack in the Asian country "in the near future." "Any large-scale public event such as the upcoming Olympic Games (in August) may present an attractive target for terrorists," the State Department said in an updated travel alert. "There is a heightened risk that extremist groups will conduct terrorist acts within China in the near future," it said. The warning was issued as Interpol chief Ronald Noble told a security conference on the Games in Beijing that it was possible "Al-Qaida or some other terrorist group will attempt to launch a deadly terrorist attack" there. The State Department said that given the increased risk, Americans travelling in China "are advised to use caution and to be alert to their surroundings at all times, including at hotels, in restaurants, on public transportation and where there are demonstrations and other large-scale public gatherings." Chinese authorities have increased security in the country's airports in recent months in light of the security concerns, it said. "For example, Chinese airport authorities recently implemented tighter restrictions on taking liquids, aerosols, or gels aboard flights in carry-on baggage," it said. In a previous travel warning in March, the State Department said the threat of terrorism appeared to be minimal, but urged caution nonetheless. "The threat level for terrorism against Americans in China remains low. However, any large-scale public event like the upcoming Olympic Games could become the focus of terrorist acts or other forms of violence," it said. "There is no reason to believe that US citizens are being targeted at this time," it said at the time. The Olympic Summer Games will take place from August 8-24, followed by the Beijing Paralympic Summer Games 2008 from September 6-17.
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