British passengers on holiday flights from the Middle East and North Africa will be banned within days from carrying laptops, tablets and other electronic devices on board after security services identified a new al-Qaeda terrorist threat.

More than 2 million passengers a year flying on airlines including British Airways, Thomson, Thomas Cook and Easyjet will be prevented from taking devices larger than a mobile phone into the cabin.

Instead, anyone flying from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia will have to put electronic devices in their hold luggage, despite concerns they could be stolen or damaged.

The Government introduced the ban after a similar move by the US, where officials revealed “evaluated intelligence” showed that terrorists are “aggressively pursuing innovative measures” to carry out attacks with devices such as laptop bombs.

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