Europe on alert for anniversary

10:58:48 AM
11 2002

Europe on alert for anniversary

LONDON, England -- Europe is on high alert as the continent commemorates the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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Police are warning Europeans to be vigilant on Wednesday, as possible terrorist targets -- including airports, national landmarks and financial centres -- tighten security.

Italy assigned 4,000 soldiers to protect "sensitive sites," while Belgium ordered strict vigilance for its security authorities. German police stepped up security at Frankfurt airport, continental Europe's biggest.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said: "At any instant, anywhere in France or in the world, terrorism can strike, and therefore, we are not free in the face of terrorism, we are on watch.

"Monstrosity is always lying in wait, it's out there, and it is always possible."

Belgium's Interior Minister Antoine Duquesne told The Associated Press: "Now, we always have to consider the unthinkable."

Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday to express his country's condolences on the anniversary. (Story)

"I want to reiterate my condolences and express not only the sympathy but also the support of the whole Russian people to Americans," Putin told Bush.

"In Russia, they say that time cures, but we cannot forget. We must not forget."

In London, the authorities have prepared not only for a possible strike by al Qaeda, blamed for the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, but also by lone terrorists acting to exploit the "world stage."

Assistant Commissioner David Veness, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Squad, said: "We shouldn't just think about the ghastly spectacular attacks that have already taken place, but also the range of possibilities that smaller groups and individuals may use."

The increased security provisions in Europe come as the U.S. raised its security alert to orange, signifying a high risk of terror attacks against American interests around the world. (Full story)

The U.S. military's European Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, and responsible for American forces in Europe and parts of Africa, said security measures were being kept at levels of recent months, but that base commanders could order extra measures as warranted.

London airports have increased security, and the bulk of flights to the U.S. have been cancelled.

Eighteen of Wednesday's transatlantic flights from Heathrow bound to North America have been cancelled by operators British Airways, Virgin and American Airlines.

Continental Airlines has cancelled two scheduled flights to New York from Gatwick.

British landmarks in Westminster and Whitehall, such as Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, are also likely to face heightened security.

Police officers backed by armed soldiers have been posted at the U.S. Embassy in London's Grosvenor Square.

Europe, like other parts of the world, was expected to come to a complete standstill at 1246 GMT when there will be the first of two one-minute silences -- each to mark when the jets hit the World Trade Center in New York exactly a year ago.

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Source by CNN

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