US tourists defy Euro terror threat

2010-10-04 22:03
A police officer with a dog, patrols a central London train station, as the threat of terrorism in the UK remains unchanged at "severe," meaning an attack is highly likely. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

A police officer with a dog, patrols a central London train station, as the threat of terrorism in the UK remains unchanged at "severe," meaning an attack is highly likely. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP) (Lefteris Pitarakis)

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Paris - US tourists at the Eiffel Tower and other crowded attractions across Europe were alert but defiant on Monday after their government warned of possible terror attacks at major sites.

The US State Department's travel advisory warning of "possible terrorist attack" against its citizens in Europe prompted jitters in some tourists and defiant resolve in others.

"We decided not to go up the Eiffel Tower because of the possibility of what could happen" after hearing the travel advisory, said Eileen Carbrello, 60, from Virginia, standing at the foot of the monument with five relatives.

"But we feel safe here and we're still having a great time," she told AFP, as a handful of armed soldiers patrolled as usual around the tower, Paris's biggest tourist draw, and a long line of visitors waited to ascend.

Several US visitors said they were used to living with the threat.

"You can only be a terrorist if people are terrified, and I refuse to be terrified," said Renee Lavine, 50, from Fort Worth, Texas, at London's top tourist draw, the British Museum.

The museum stands a few streets away from where a bus exploded in one of the concerted suicide bombings that killed more than 50 people in the British capital in July 2005.

Concerned

"I think we're naturally vigilant in this day and age," said her husband, David, 64. "I feel perfectly safe here... I'm concerned, but I'm not going to stop living."

US channel Fox News, citing unnamed intelligence officials, said militants had a list of targets in France and Germany, including the Eiffel Tower and Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

"It's good for them to issue it (the security alert) if there is credible evidence of a terrorist plot," said Mark Yblood, 61, a sales executive from Texas, visiting a remnant of the Berlin Wall at Postdamer Platz.

"But we are not going to allow terrorists to change our plans or our lifestyle. That's one way they win, if they change your lifestyle or the way you do things."

US citizens said they had grown more vigilant since the deadly attacks of September 11 2001 on New York and Washington, and several said they felt secure in the measures taken to protect the sites in Europe.

"Because we're Americans and the attacks were in the States for 9/11, we're conditioned to take it seriously but personally we don't feel on alert on holiday," said Tiffany Anthony, 37, a surgeon from Dallas, Texas, at Rome's Trevi Fountain.

Seeing the armed soldiers at the Eiffel Tower, Joanne Molinari, a resident of the US capital, said: "This to me seems usual. It's the same kind of security we have in Washington."

"I'm not worried. I just pray," said Catherine Alsano, 63, from New Jersey.

"I pray every day that God will protect us from terrorists and defend us in battle."

- SAPA
Read more on:    us  |  europe  |  security
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