No 10 plays down attack fear

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Downing Street insisted yesterday there was no evidence that terrorists were planning attacks in Britain and distanced itself from warnings by the Foreign Office.

Tony Blair's official spokesman appeared to contradict warnings by Foreign Office ministers that Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect for the attacks in the US, was preparing further terrorist acts.

Mr Blair's aides feared that comments by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and the Europe minister, Peter Hain, could undermine Mr Blair's call for people to carry on with their normal lives and prevent the threat of terrorism harming the economy.

Mr Hain said: "We are in a very dangerous situation... I understand that he is preparing already for high-impact terrorist attacks in the coming weeks, if he's able to... we would be irresponsible not to warn of the risks."

However, Mr Blair's spokesman insisted: "We have no evidence of a specific threat to this country. That is not lightly said. We have evidence of a threat internationally."

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, denied that Mr Straw and Mr Hain had "talked up" the threat in Britain, but insisted such a threat was not imminent. He said: "We are putting in place the necessary security at every point... We believe that a global threat remains but we do not wish to frighten people because they must go about their normal lives, doing their normal business, ensuring that our economy and social life are not undermined."

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