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No sign attack planned in U.S.-Homeland Security

Reuters | July 7, 2005

U.S. officials reacted with little public fanfare to the terrorist attacks in London on Thursday, reporting no indication a similar attack was planned in the United States and no immediate plan to raise the terrorism alert level.

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A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said federal officials were promptly in contact with local authorities and commuters were urged to be alert after a series of explosions rocked London killing several people. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was an apparent terrorist attack coinciding with a meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Scotland.

President Bush was in Scotland for the G8 session and said he directed homeland security officials to be extra vigilant as Americans headed to work. Vice President Dick Cheney was on a scheduled trip to his ranch in Wyoming and would be returning to Washington, as planned, on Thursday afternoon.

"The war on terror goes on," Bush said.

U.S. stock futures plunged on word of the attacks but operations in the U.S. capital proceeded largely without interruption with no extraordinary measures taken.

"The Department of Homeland Security does not have any intelligence indicating this type of attack is planned in the United States," spokeswoman Katy Montgomery said in stressing that the department would "constantly evaluate both the threat information as well as our protective measures."

She said officials at the Department of Homeland Security had spoken with others at the state and local level as well as public and private sector officials representing major transportation systems.

She declined to say what additional security measures had been taken and where.

Washington police said security had been increased around some key buildings and a spokesman said a Joint Operations Command Center, only activated for large-scale demonstrations, parades, or emergency situations, was activated immediately.

"At this time, there are no immediate plans to raise the nation's threat level," Montgomery added.

The Department of Homeland Security raised and then lowered the threat level for the financial services sector in New York, New Jersey, and Washington from "high" or code orange to "elevated" or code yellow in November 2004. The country remains at code yellow.

The overall threat level has not been raised since the December 2003-January 2004 holiday period.

In Washington on Thursday morning, the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it was beefing up police presence because of the London attacks.

"In response to events in London ... we ask customers to please be alert and report any unusual activity or suspicious packages," the authority said on its Web site.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were on some Metro platforms and police cars were seen outside stations. Police were also searching buses.

Authorities in New York, where twin hijacked plane attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, killed almost 3,000 people, said there had been no additional security ordered or any unusual incidents reported.

"We're reminding people not to leave unattended packages. ... We're also checking our trains before they leave the yards, before they leave the terminals, as we always do," said Paul Fleuranges, spokesman for New York City Transit.

(Additional reporting by Sue Pleming and Caroline Drees and Claudia Parsons in New York) .

 

 

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