Japan, Sweden join in terror alerts

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PARIS | Japan and Sweden joined the U.S. and Britain on Monday in warning citizens about traveling in Europe because of concerns about a terror attack.

Elsewhere, Pakistani intelligence officials said five German militants were believed killed in an American missile strike close to the Afghan border.

The attack hit a house in North Waziristan. That region has been named as the source of the European terror plot that has prompted U.S. authorities to issue a travel advisory. One or more German citizens are reported to be linked to the plot.

Two officials said the victims were believed to be German citizens in the region for terrorist training. A third said they were believed to be foreigners, but gave no details.

The officials spoke anonymously because their agency does not permit operatives to be named in the media.

The travel advisories from Tokyo and Stockholm came as European authorities sought to calibrate their messages on counterterrorism efforts, hoping to raise public awareness about the threat but without creating panic.

The warnings could plant the seed for possible damage to Europe’s lucrative tourism business at a time when the continent’s economy has been struggling with recession - though many tourists took the warnings in stride.

The U.S. State Department alert Sunday advised the hundreds of thousands of American citizens living or traveling in Europe to take more precautions about their personal security. The Japanese alert was similar.

Britain’s Foreign Office warned travelers to France and Germany that the terror threat there was high. Sweden’s Foreign Ministry did not single out a particular country in its message.

Amid increased security in Paris, 61 soldiers from an Alpine regiment were deployed over the weekend at two sites in Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the joint staff of the Paris defense zone said.

One trigger for the heightened concern came from French authorities last month. A number of officials said France was facing its highest terror alert level in years, pointing to increased violence and threats by al Qaeda’s North African branch.

The public concerns intensified last week after a Pakistani intelligence official said eight Germans and two British brothers were at the heart of an al Qaeda-linked terror plot against European cities.

Security officials say terrorists may be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons on public places, similar to the deadly 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai, India. European officials have provided no details about specific targets.

Eight Germans and two British brothers are at the heart of an al Qaeda-linked terror plot against European cities, but the plan is still in its early stages, with the suspects calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics, a Pakistani intelligence official said last week. One of the Britons died in a recent CIA missile strike, he said.

The Pakistani official said the suspects are hiding in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region where militancy is rife and where the U.S. has focused many of its drone-fired missile strikes.

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