BERLIN — German officials were tight-lipped Tuesday about details surrounding a U.S. missile strike in Pakistan's rugged mountain border area that Pakistani officials say killed five German militants.
U.S. officials believe a cell of Germans and Britons are at the heart of a terror plot against European cities — a plan they link to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — and are believed to be hiding in that region.
Germany's ARD public television cited unnamed sources Tuesday as saying that four of the Germans killed in the missile attack were of Turkish descent.
The Foreign Ministry said late Monday it was investigating the reports, but the ministry did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday on the militants' identities.
The strikes in Pakistan came on the heels of a U.S. warning for Americans traveling in Europe to be on alert for possible terror attacks, on suspicion that groups linked to al Qaeda were plotting to target tourist magnets in European capitals. Japan and Sweden also issued travel warnings.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, however, insisted there was "no reason to be alarmist."
Konrad Freiberg, head of the German police union, told the Passauer Neue Presse in its Tuesday edition the travel alerts are to be taken seriously. He warned that ever more Germans are traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan for militant training, "and a large number of them have returned and are living here."
British police used sniffer dogs to patrol subways on Monday, while soldiers and mounted police were dispatched to two major churches in Paris — Notre-Dame and Sacre-Coeur. French paramilitary troops were also seen patrolling around the Eiffel Tower, which has been evacuated twice in recent weeks for unspecified threats.
The U.S. missile strike in Pakistan killed five German militants taking shelter in a house in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan, a known hub for foreign militants with links to al Qaeda, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The terror cell said to be behind the Europe plot was believed to have been in hiding in the region. A second Briton was killed in a U.S. strike last month.