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Updated: Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:26:01 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

U.S. issues worldwide travel alert over terrorism threat

U.S. issues worldwide travel alert over terrorism threat

The United States has issued a global travel alert, citing an al-Qaeda threat that also caused the State Department to close its embassies Sunday around the Muslim world.

The State Department warned American citizens on Friday of the potential for terrorism particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, with a possible attack occurring or coming from the Arabian Peninsula.

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"Current information suggests that al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August," the statement said.

Friday's alert warned that al-Qaeda or its allies may target U.S. government or private American interests. It cited dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists, noting that previous terrorist attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats.

"U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling," the department said. It recommended that American traveling overseas register with consular authorities on a travel registration website.

The alert was posted a day after the U.S. announced it would close 21 embassies and consulates this Sunday in the Muslim world because of an unspecified threat. Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the department acted out of an "abundance of caution" and that some missions may stay closed for longer than a day. Sunday is a business day in Muslim countries.

U.S. lawmaker Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Friday the embassy threat was linked to al-Qaeda and focused on the Middle East and Central Asia.

"We've had a series of threats," Royce told reporters. "In this instance, we can take a step to better protect our personnel and, out of an abundance of caution, we should."

No warnings for Canadians

In Canada, there were no new travel warnings or advisories posted to the foreign affairs department website on Friday morning.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government monitors events closely and takes appropriate security measures. He would not say whether any missions will be closed this Sunday.

"We won't comment publicly on security precaution specifics at our missions," Rick Roth said in an email to CBC News.

Roth added that if an embassy or consulate is closed during normal business hours the department of foreign affairs will update its travel advisories on its website and notify the public via Twitter.

Several of Canada's missions in the Middle East, including the embassies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are closed on Fridays and Saturdays and normal operating hours are Sunday through Thursday.

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