US terror alert sparks Bin Laden assault fear

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The Independent Online
THERE WAS speculation last night that the United States could be planning an assault on Osama bin Laden, the international terrorist suspected of ordering last year's attacks on American embassies in Africa.

The US State Department issued a new travel warning advising Americans, especially government employees, not to travel in the region of the Khyber Pass. The pass, which links Pakistan and Afghanistan, is close to the area in southern Afghanistan where Mr bin Laden is believed to have his headquarters. The FBI warned Americans to be wary of possible letter or parcel bombs originating in Germany. While this information was attributed to intelligence sources, the State Department gave no reason for its travel warning.

In London, Scotland Yard also warned the public to be on alert for Islamic terrorism, although police conceded they had no specific evidence of an attack directed on Britain.

The warnings came as prosecutors in the state of Vermont in north-east America said they had evidence that a woman detained while crossing into the US from Canada at the weekend was connected with a group that may have sponsored terrorist attacks in France and Algeria.

The NBC television news channel had earlier cited "unconfirmed intelligence reports" that an Islamic terrorist group based in Montreal may have planned attacks in six US cities. That theory appeared to originate with the arrest last week of an Algerian citizen, who had travelled from Montreal to the US with a car boot full of bomb-making materials.

The authorities have yet to establish any link between the border arrests, or between those arrests and Mr bin Laden, who is wanted in the US in connection with last year's bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

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