US warns citizens of terrorist attacks threat at European tourist hotspots

The US has extended a European travel alert for its citizens, warning that terrorists continue to focus on tourist sites as attack targets, and that those traveling to the continent should “exercise additional vigilance” around such areas.

The alert, issued Thursday, cites “widely reported incidents” in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Finland, adding that the State Department “remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks.” 

It goes on to state that extremists are continuing to focus on “tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets.

“In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks.”

The alert warns US citizens to “exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations,” adding that terrorists are using a variety of tactics in their attacks, including firearms, explosives, vehicles, and sharp-edged weapons which are “difficult to detect prior to an attack.”

The Thursday alert is an extension of a previous warning issued in May. The current alert is due to expire on November 30, but could be extended once again.

It comes just two weeks after a terrorist attack on a popular tourist street in Barcelona, Spain, killed 14 people and injured 130 others when a driver rammed a van into pedestrians. The driver later fled the scene and killed a 15th victim in order to steal his car and escape.

Nine hours after the Barcelona attack, five terrorists drove into pedestrians in nearby Cambrils, killing one person and injuring six others. All five men were shot and killed by police.

Just one day later, two people were killed and six injured in a knife attack in the Finnish city of Turku, with the attacker reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Details later emerged that the assailant, originally from Morocco, had been denied asylum in Finland.

Europe has endured a number of attacks by foreign terrorists or attackers of migrant background in recent years, including the June attack in the London Bridge area of the British capital, which was launched by a Pakistani-born British citizen, a failed asylum seeker from either Morocco or Libya, and a Moroccan-Italian man.