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US embassy retracts terror warning
Updated: 2005-11-11 09:03

The US embassy in China retracted a warning about possible attacks by Islamic extremists against luxury hotels in China, saying local police had determined that the reported threat was not credible.

"The Chinese Ministry of Public Security informed the US Embassy in Beijing on November 10th that Chinese security authorities have determined that the source of a reported threat against four and five star hotels in China is not credible," the embassy said on its website.

"The United States Government is not aware of any other information of any threat against hotels in China, including Hong Kong. Our warden message of November 9th on threats to hotels is therefore retracted."

The warning posted on the US embassy website Wednesday said the mission had learned that Chinese police had advised hotels that Islamic extremists could be planning to attack luxury hotels in China sometime next week.

The warning was issued just 10 days before a scheduled visit by US President George W. Bush.

China's foreign ministry on Thursday called the report "a sham fabricated by some foreign citizen."

"China's Ministry of Public Security has never issued any such warning to China's hotels, so it's safe to stay in China's hotels," said foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.

He said security officials had informed him that a foreign national had issued a false report, although he did not say to whom.

"This foreign national issued such a false report using an anonymous method," he said. "I believe Chinese police are carrying out an investigation but the result of the investigation shows it was anonymous information.

"As to how the US side received such information, I suggest you ask the US embassy in China."

A US embassy spokeswoman told AFP embassy officials had contacted Chinese police when they heard the rumors that hotels might be targeted.

"We did not receive the threat," she said. "There was just a lot of information floating around that there was a threat out there, so we were in contact with Chinese police."

"Today ... they said 'We finished our investigation and it's not a credible threat.'"

The US embassy had decided as a precautionary measure to post the online warning, she said, adding that "we don't want to let the public go uninformed."

Various top-class hotels in Beijing told AFP on Wednesday and Thursday they had received no warnings from the police.

The US warning came at a particularly sensitive time for the two nations, with Bush due to begin a three-day visit to China on November 19.

A host of other US government officials are due in China next week, including Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is due to arrive in Beijing on Monday for a four-day trip.

George Bush Snr, the former US president, and US Trade Representative Rob Portman are also due in Beijing for a China-US relations forum.

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