US issues travel alert following France attacks

Reuters/Carlo Allegri
In the wake of recent attacks in France, Australia, and Canada, the United States has issued a worldwide travel alert.

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Issued by the State Department, the warning states that violent attacks involving Americans are becoming more common.

"Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that US citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness," the alert reads.

The alert does not reference any particular events specifically, but does make note of "increasingly prevalent" kidnappings and hostage situations around the world. Last year, a gunman killed a soldier near Canada's parliament while a hostage situation in Sydney, Australia left two innocent people dead.

The alert also comes just a few hours after two hostage situations ended in France, where police killed three hostage-takers – including two suspected of carrying out the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Four civilians were also killed by the gunmen.

Additionally, the State Department noted that "reprisal attacks" from the Islamic State against the US and its coalition partners are more likely to take place overseas. The extremist group has promised to strike back against the US for trying to destroy the group, which has currently taken over wide swathes of Iraq and Syria.

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"In response to [US] airstrikes, [the Islamic State] called on supporters to attack foreigners wherever they are," the warning reads. "Authorities believe there is an increased likelihood of reprisal attacks against US, Western and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia."

Americans are reminded that militants routinely kidnap Westerners hoping to earn a ransom for their return, and that various public transportation systems could be at risk. The State Department also said that US government buildings overseas will be on high alert.

"These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, US embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to US citizens."

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