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Saturday, August 14, 1999 Published at 01:49 GMT 02:49 UK


Airlines 'on red alert'

British Airways is on full alert, says the Daily Mail

The UK government is refusing to discuss a report that British and US airlines are on top security alert for bombs planted by Islamic fanatics.

Supporters of Saudi Arabian exile Osama Bin Laden, one of the world's most wanted men, are thought to be behind the threat, the Daily Mail says.

The newspaper says the Department of Transport has issued a secret warning to all UK airlines that an attempt may be made to smuggle a bomb onto a plane in the next three months.

The warning is said to follow a tip-off from US intelligence, and specifically mentions Samsonite suitcases, says the Mail.

Extra guards

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "The Department is aware of the article. However, as usual, we do not discuss security measures."

The Foreign Office and Scotland Yard also said they did not comment on security matters.

British Airways is understood to have brought in extra guards to protect planes before they fly home from the Middle East, and has stepped up the screening of luggage from the region.

It said the DoT regularly advised UK airlines on security.

"We spend over £100m a year on security for our passengers," a spokeswoman said.

"Safety and security is our number one priority and would never be compromised."

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