Spain to boost security at embassies after bin Laden death

3rd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain said Tuesday it will tighten security at its embassies in North Africa, the Sahel region, Afghanistan and Pakistan following the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US forces.

The government will also contact Spanish firms and non-governmental organisations that operate in those regions to advise them to boost their security measures, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said.

The "next few weeks and months could be delicate" for Spanish interests abroad because of the risk of reprisals, he told a news conference following a government meeting to assess the impact of Bin Laden's death.

Madrid will nonetheless keep its terror alert level at "two" on a four-point scale, he added.

"I don't think that Bin Laden's death represents an additional risk for Spain from radical Islamic terrorism, which is already high," Rubalcaba said.

Spain suffered Europe's worst Islamic terror attack on March 11, 2004 when bombs exploded on packed commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in a strike by a local cell of Islamic extremists carried out in the name of bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

CIA director Leon Panetta warned Monday that terrorist groups "almost certainly" will try to avenge bin Laden, who is survived by several high-ranking leaders and supporters of his militant Al-Qaeda movement.

Bin Laden was killed overnight Sunday in a daring raid by US forces in Pakistan, a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks he masterminded leveled the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon.

The Spanish foreign on Tuesday advised Spanish nationals against "all travel" to Pakistan in the wake of bin Laden's death because of the "high risk of terrorism and sectarian violence" in the country.

Rubalcaba said Spanish troops serving in international missions in Afghanistan and Lebanon were on "maximum alert" against possible attacks.

The Sahel, which spans from Africa's Atlantic coast in the west and the Red Sea in the east, encompasses Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Northern Nigeria.

© 2011 AFP

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