UK raises terror threat level to ‘severe’ following attacks in France and Austria
The United Kingdom has preemptively raised its terror threat level to “severe” from “substantial” following recent attacks in France and Austria.
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Twitter Tuesday that the move was a “precautionary measure and is not based on any specific threat.”
“The public should continue to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police,” she tweeted.
The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has changed the UK terror threat level from substantial to severe.
This is a precautionary measure and is not based on any specific threat.
The public should continue to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police. pic.twitter.com/XJa0gXetee
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) November 3, 2020
The “severe” threat level means that an attack is considered highly likely, according to The Associated Press. The previous “substantial” level meant that an attack was likely.
The move comes on the heels of attacks in France and Austria that have been linked to Islamic extremists.
In Austria, 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai was armed with an automatic rifle and a fake explosive vest as he walked through Vienna, killing five people and wounding another 14, according to the AP.
Unverified video showed Fejzulai, dressed in white coveralls, firing off rounds as he ran down the city’s cobblestone streets. Police shot and killed the suspect upon arriving at the scene.
Austrian authorities said the suspect was sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 for attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS, although he was given early release in December. Police are looking for other suspects in connection to the attack.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday that he had raised France’s security alert status to the highest threat level, and was deploying 7,000 troops to protect schools and religious sites after a knife attack inside a Nice church left three people dead.
Authorities said Thursday that an armed attacker was wounded and taken into custody after a confrontation with police outside Nice’s Notre Dame Church, less than a mile from the location of a 2016 truck attack that killed dozens. The attacker was later identified as Ibrahim Issaoui.
French authorities said that Issaoui was born in Tunisia and arrived in Italy on Sept. 20, before going to Paris on Oct. 29, French prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said, according to the AP. The attacker was not known to be a potential threat.
Two more suspects who have been in contact with the attacker before the killing were also arrested.
The attack was the third in France in the past two months linked to Islamic extremists, including the Oct. 16 beheading of a French middle school teacher who showed his class, during a lesson on free speech, caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Last month, a man in France attacked people with a knife outside Charlie Hebdo’s former office.