US authorities have warned Americans that there may be terrorist attacks in Europe in the run-up to the holiday season. The advisory comes as France conducted another series of terror-related arrests.
The US State Department said it had received credible information indicating that militants belonging to the so-called "Islamic State" movement (IS) as well as al Qaeda and other groupings were planning attacks in Europe.
"US citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets. This Travel Alert expires on February 20, 2017," its travel alert said, adding that travelers should also apply caution on public transport, places of worship, restaurants and hotels.
"While extremists have carried out attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, and Turkey in the past year, the Department remains concerned about the potential for attacks throughout Europe."
The travel alert also recognized that European authorities were continuing with raids to disrupt terror plots, stressing that the Department of State and various European government worked closely together, routinely sharing information in order to combat terrorism.
France plot foiled
The statement by the State Department came as police in France broke up a terror ring plotting an attack, arresting seven suspects in the cities of Strasbourg and Marseille over the weekend.
But the AFP news agency reported that the mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, said the interior ministry had told him the targets were "in the Paris region" and not in his city, which will be opening a major Christmas market later this week. The DPA news agency reported that French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later told Ries that the Christmas market had not been the target of the intended attack.
The French interior minister said 418 people had been arrested for suspected links to terror networks since the start of the year. France has suffered three major attacks since January 2015 when gunmen targeted the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, followed by last November's coordinated attacks across Paris, which killed 130, and a self-radicalized extremist driving a truck through crowds in the southern city of Nice in July, killing 86.
ss/bw (Reuters, AFP, US Department of State)