U.S. issues travel alert for Europe over terror threat

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The United States has issued a travel alert for Europe, warning U.S. citizens of the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks” during the upcoming holiday season. Last year’s festivities were marked by deadly attacks in Germany and Turkey.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement Thursday that Americans should “exercise caution” at holiday festivals and events. “U.S. citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning,” it said.

The travel alert gave no indication that the U.S. has specific intelligence about a plot to carry out attacks, but it noted that recent incidents in Europe have demonstrated that groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks throughout the continent.

“While local governments continue counterterrorism operations, the Department remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks,” the State Department said. It added that terror groups continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets and shopping malls, entertainment venues, and other locations.

The travel alert expires on January 31.

Europe has been hit by a number of terror attacks this year, particularly in Britain, France, and Spain, prompting the U.S. to issue a number of travel alerts. Last year’s holiday season in Europe was marked by two high-profile terror attacks that left dozens of people dead.

In Germany, a truck was deliberately driven into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 50 others. And on New Year’s Eve, just after a midnight, a gunman opened fire at a nightclub in the Turkish city of Istanbul, killing 39 people and injuring 70 others. Both attacks were carried out by ISIS.

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