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    Western Countries on Alert Over Possible Christmas Terror Attacks

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    European and Australian police have been taking measures to prevent "lone wolf" terror attacks during the Christmas holidays, while the US Department of State issued a worldwide travel alert asking American citizens to "be extra cautious."

    MOSCOW, December 25 (Sputnik) — Law enforcement authorities in Europe and Australia have been taking special precautions throughout this week to prevent so-called "lone wolf" terror attacks during the holidays.

    At least one major attack was prevented Monday in Italy, where after a two-year-long investigation the police arrested 14 neo-fascists plotting to kill some ten politicians and attack immigrants during the holiday season.

    On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that 300 extra troops would be deployed around the country during the holidays. Over the past week France witnessed three seemingly unrelated lone wolf attacks, that resulted in more than 20 injuries.

    The same day Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called on Australians to stay "alert and aware" on holidays as the terrorist threat in the country remained high. Local security authorities fear that the December 15 hostage-taking incident in Sydney may produce copycat attacks on Christmas.

    On the Christmas Eve, The Times reported that Britain was on alert over Islamist hit-and-run terrorists that may launch attacks in crowded places. "We can't put bollards up outside all the shops in Oxford Street, but there are extra protective measures that can be taken," a senior source in the government told The Times.

    Spontaneous lone wolf attacks are not the only thing law enforcement authorities fear this Christmas. As early as on December 1, the British Daily Express newspaper said citing an unnamed security employee that al-Qaeda terrorists had been plotting to blow up five European passenger planes on Christmas.

    On December 19, US Department of State issued a worldwide travel alert asking US citizens to "be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security." The alert expires in three months.

    The terrorist threat has been perceived as high by most of the Western countries in recent months as the Islamic State (IS) Sunni jihadist group called on supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks in countries that are participating in the US-led anti-IS coalition. European authorities also repeatedly voiced concerns that EU citizens fighting for the IS abroad could return and attempt to carry out attacks in Europe.


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