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U.S. issues terror warning in northern Europe

/ Source: The Associated Press

United States embassies in northern Europe said they have received “threat information” and urged Americans living in the Nordic and Baltic regions to be cautious.

In the rare warning for Americans in the region, the State Department urged all citizens “to be vigilant as to their surroundings, especially in centers of ground-based mass transit, and to report any unusual or suspicious persons, incidents or circumstances” to authorities, the embassy’s Web site in Helsinki said.

The warning, posted late Saturday, gave no other details.

“The information is as specific as we can make it at this time. If we had more specific information for American citizens, we would of course release it,” embassy spokeswoman, Victoria Middleton, said on Monday.

The State Department’s warning coincided with an announcement Saturday by Latvia’s security service that it had received intelligence reports from Norway, Estonia and the United States of a possible terrorist strike against the small Baltic nation.

The U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, urged Americans “to avoid large shopping areas and transportation hubs on or about November 1, 2004.” Latvian officials said the country’s national security council would meet Monday to discuss the warning.

The Finnish Security Police said security will be increased at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki but that Nordic citizens had nothing to fear.

“The United States has a lower threshold when it comes to warning its citizens, but we have no concrete information that would warrant such a warning,” said Paavo Selin, head of Finland’s counterterrorism unit.

Norway closed its embassy in Riga because of the warning, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

The Baltic states include Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The Nordic states include Norway, Sweden and Finland.