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Plot to attack European cities foiled

London, September 29, 2010

Intelligence agencies have disrupted plans for multiple attacks on European cities by a group thought to be linked to al Qaeda, Britain's Sky News said on Tuesday.

Militants based in Pakistan were planning simultaneous strikes in London, as well as cities in France and Germany, the channel's foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said.

He said an increase in drone attacks in Pakistan in the past few weeks was linked to attempts by Western powers to disrupt the plot, which was at an "advanced but not imminent stage".

British security sources declined to comment on the report.

Britain in January raised its international terrorism threat level to "severe" -- the second highest level of alert in the five-tier system.

The head of Britain's MI5 Security Service, Jonathan Evans, said on Sept. 16 there remained "a serious risk of a lethal attack taking place".

The Eiffel Tower and the surrounding Champ de Mars park were briefly evacuated on Tuesday because of a bomb alert, the fourth in the Paris region in as many weeks, but a search turned up nothing, police said.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said on Sept. 20 France faced a real terrorism threat due to a backlash from al Qaeda militants in North Africa, with fears growing of an attack from home-grown cells within French borders.

Citing unidentified intelligence sources, Sky said the planned attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai by Pakistan-based gunmen in 2008.

The heavily armed militants launched an assault on various targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal hotel and the city's main train station.

The US appeared to have widened drone aircraft attacks against al Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan and might have killed a senior leader of the group, Pakistani and US officials said on Tuesday.

US officials declined to comment on specific plots in Europe or elsewhere but acknowledged that targeted drone strikes in Pakistan were meant to disrupt militant networks planning attacks.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that links between plots and those who are orchestrating them lead to decisive American action," a US official told Reuters.

"The terrorists who are involved are, as everyone should expect, going to be targets. That's the whole point of all of this." – Reuters




Tags: London | Europe | plot | Qaeda | attack | MI5 |

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