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The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert Friday in the wake of the deadly lone-wolf attack in Sydney, Australia, earlier in the week. The attack, which left two hostages and the attacker dead, "is a reminder that U.S. citizens should be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security," the travel alert said.

State Department and intelligence officials said that there is no specific threat to Americans travelling abroad, but they are concerned that Monday's violence could inspire copycat attacks. The State Department warned that terrorists may not only focus on government buildings and officials, but might also target public places like "shopping areas, places of worship and schools, among other targets during or coinciding with this holiday period." The 17 hostages held in Monday's attack in Australia were held in a cafe. "U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorists groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues," the State Department said. The alert is set to expire on March 19, 2015.


— Andrea Mitchell and Elisha Fieldstadt