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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 18:09 GMT
US fears Easter attacks in Italy
St Mark's Square, Venice
The US fears Venice could be targeted
American citizens could be targeted by extremist groups in Italian cities over Easter, the US State Department has warned.


The US Government continues to receive credible reports that extremists are planning additional terrorist actions against US interests

US statement
The US did not identify the groups or nature of the attacks, but said the cities at risk were Florence, Venice, Verona and Milan.

A US official quoted by Associated Press said the warning was based on "very specific information".

"These groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets," the State Department warned.

Places of worship, restaurants, schools and outdoor events, were among the possible targets mentioned by officials.

American citizens are being advised to "increase their security awareness and avoid large crowds".

It is not the first time Washington has issued a terror warning about Italy - last October the US said terrorists could be planning to attack "symbols of American capitalism" in Italy.

Last month, Italian investigators uncovered evidence which they said pointed to a bomb plot against the US embassy in Rome.

They found holes carved into an underground passageway next to the diplomatic mission, which they said could have been used to plant a bomb.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
"We are working closely with the Italian Government"
The BBC's Nick Hawton
"The threat is said to be credible"
See also:

24 Feb 02 | Europe
'Terror tunnels' found in Rome
20 Feb 02 | Europe
'Cyanide attack' foiled in Italy
05 Feb 02 | Europe
Terror suspects on trial in Italy
02 Oct 01 | Europe
US warns of Italy terror attack
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