British minister says terror threat still high, as cuts loom

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Britain's interior minister said Monday the country still faced a "very serious" threat from terrorism, shortly before deep, across-the-board budget cuts are expected to be announced.

Home Secretary Theresa May said it was "highly likely" Britain would face an attack by international extremists.

Her comments came on the day Britain unveils its new national security strategy, which is expected to identify terrorism and cyber-attacks as the biggest threats to British security, placing them ahead of an international crisis between states which draws Britain in.

This will provide the backdrop to Tuesday's strategic defence review, which should identify cuts of some eight percent which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) faces as part of Wednesday's overall comprehensive spending review.

"We are absolutely clear that we do have a very serious threat from international terrorism -- that is why the threat level here in the UK is at severe," May told ITV television.

"That means that an attack is highly likely, so everybody does need to be vigilant.

"What we see today is more diverse sources of threat, but we are absolutely clear that we do have that very serious threat from international terrorism."

May's comments suggest that security service MI5 and secret intelligence service MI6 could be spared the worst of the cuts, along with counter-terrorism police.

Britain's threat level is currently rated as severe -- the second highest level.

Saudi security services have warned in the last few days of an Al-Qaeda threat to Europe but focused on France, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Sunday.

© 2010 AFP

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