- Title: U.S. travel warning prompts heightened security at European Christmas markets
- Date: 22nd November 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF SECURITY GUARDS ON PATROL
- Embargoed: 7th December 2016 16:57
- Keywords: France Germany Christmas market security Strasbourg Berlin Munich
- Location: BERLIN & MUNICH, GERMANY / STRASBOURG, FRANCE
- City: BERLIN & MUNICH, GERMANY / STRASBOURG, FRANCE
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,International/National Security
- Reuters ID: LVA00259J1RGN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Security was heightened at Christmas markets in Germany and France on Tuesday (November 22) after the U.S. State Department issued an alert to U.S. citizens about a heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season.
"U.S. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets," it said in a statement on Monday (November 23), adding that there was credible information that Islamic State, al Qaeda and their affiliates continued to plan attacks in Europe.
In Berlin, the organisers of a traditional Christmas market in the German capital's Gendarmenmarkt square said they had done everything possible to avert danger.
Security guards in black uniforms searched people's bags as they approached the premises on this historic square as one visitor from the United States said he was not scared in the least.
"I think the likelihood of something happening is so small," said Michael Liehr, a professor from Albany, New York.
"I believe it's much more dangerous to sit in a car and drive and get killed than getting killed on the Weihnachtsmarkt," Liehr said, using the German word for christmas market.
In Munich, a vendor at one of the wooden stalls being set up in the central Marienplatz square said she too was not afraid.
"Where am I safe?" asked Bea Loewweinlein.
"If I fall down the stairs at home I get killed as well if things work out badly. If we let ourselves be limited in our movements that's exactly what they want, that no one leaves home anymore. I will continue to lead my life as before and when the time has come I'm either gone or not."
Munich's police spokesman Sven Mueller sought to reassure people, saying the number of officers this Christmas season had been increased compared to previous years.
"We have no concrete indications for any imminent danger so we can definitely tell people: go and visit the Christmas markets and have a good time, we are taking care of you," said Mueller.
In the eastern French city of Strasbourg, soldiers wearing bullet-proof vests were seen on patrol around the wooden stalls being set up for the Christmas market.
In November 2015, three coordinated teams of gunmen and suicide bombers carried out a wave of attacks across Paris that killed 129 people.
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