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Worldwide caution updated to reflect risk of anthrax attack

By Elise Labott, CNN State Department Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The State Department has updated its statement of worldwide caution, issued after the military campaign against Afghanistan began, to reflect the risk of an anthrax attack.

"Reports of and confirmed cases of exposure to anthrax have caused an increase in anxiety over possible attacks using chemical and biological agents," the warning said.

It added that the current method of delivery of anthrax has been by letter or package and "while the risk of such attacks is limited, it cannot be excluded."

"The Department will promptly share with American citizens overseas any credible information about threats to their safety," the warning said, adding, "Americans should stay informed and be prepared for any eventuality."

The warning said that the "U.S. government remains deeply concerned about the security of Americans overseas," following the beginning of U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan.

"As a result, there is a potential for strong anti-American sentiment and for retaliatory actions to be taken against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world by terrorists and those who harbor grievances against the United States," it said.

"U.S. citizens and interests abroad remain at increased risk of terrorist attacks, including by groups with links to Usama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaida organization. These individuals do not distinguish between official and civilian targets."

The warning said U.S. facilities abroad "remain at a heightened state of alert" and could temporarily close.

In a classified memo to embassies abroad reviewing security precautions following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the State Department told posts that "the best source of information" for Americans abroad about a terrorist attack was "media outlets, such as local news channels and CNN."



 
 
 
 



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