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Saturday, August 22, 1998 Published at 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK


World

US on alert for reprisals

Trucks block an entrance to the State Department as security is stepped up

The US is on alert for possible reprisals following American missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan.


[ image: Security staff are on alert at the Pentagon]
Security staff are on alert at the Pentagon
Warnings have been issued to American citizens at home and abroad.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has warned of a long-term battle against terrorism.

Security at public buildings and monuments in Washington has been increased as Americans prepare for what could be an extended and unpredictable confrontation.

Airport checks are being more rigorously enforced and American embassies around the world are on increased alert.

"The Department of State urges US citizens travelling or residing abroad to review their security practices, to remain alert to the changing situation, and to exercise much greater caution than usual," said a statement issued by the department on Thursday.


Richard Hoagland of the US embassy in Islamabad tells the BBC's John Humphrys: "Security is adequate"
"Large crowds and other situations in which anti-American sentiments may be expressed should be avoided. US diplomatic posts worldwide are taking appropriate security precautions."

But Richard Hoagland, of the US embassy in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said security at the building was "adequate" following angry anti-American protests on Friday.

British nationals warned

The United Kingdom Foreign Office has advised the few remaining British nationals in Afghanistan to leave and is discouraging non-essential visits to Sudan and Pakistan.

All British citizens overseas, particularly those in Islamic countries, have been urged to exercise extra vigilance.

British Airways has rerouted flights scheduled to cross Sudanese or Afghan airspace, in view of the security situation, a BA spokesman said.

Other European airlines are reported to be taking similar measures and the US Federal Aviation Administration is urging US carriers to do the same.

Albright dismisses accusations


[ image: Madeleine Albright: Long battle ahead]
Madeleine Albright: Long battle ahead
At the same time, Mrs Albright dismissed accusations that the US strikes had been timed so as to divert public attention away from the sex scandal surrounding President Bill Clinton.

"I consider this line of attack basically silly ... our timing was based purely on what was necessary in responding to these horrible attacks on Americans and in having very good intelligence information," she said.

Meanwhile, President Clinton has resumed his holiday in Massachusetts, which was interrupted when the US launched its attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan.



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