Official: US Forces Put on High Alert in the Gulf
US forces in various locations in the Gulf have been put on a higher state of alert in response to "specific information," a senior US defense official said late Monday, without elaborating.
"Forces in various places in the Gulf are operating on higher states of alert in response to specific information," the official told AFP.
He said the alert levels were raised over the weekend, but declined to specify the locations.
The official would not disclose details of the information that prompted the move.
According to CNN, the high state of alert involved US forces in Bahrain, Qatar as well as at the Incirlik base in southern Turkey.
The move was prompted by "terrorist threats" believed to have been made by associates of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, the television network reported.
"Local commanders have the right and the responsibility to set appropriate threat conditions based on information that they have," the US defense official said.
"I'm not going to comment on any reports speculating on military action," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said.
The higher state of alert was announced as US investigators pressed on with their probe of the terrorist attack on the US Navy destroyer Cole that killed 17 sailors and injured 38 others in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on October 12.
A team of FBI agents dispatched to Aden continued searching for clues to find who could be behind the attack, believed to have been committed by two suicide bombers.
But a senior US official said Sunday that there were no new leads in the investigation into the blast that left a gaping 12 by 12-meter (40 by 40-foot) hole in the warship's portside.
The official warned that the joint Yemeni-US investigation was not underestimating the intelligence of the people who carried out the attack in Aden bay.
"We haven't ruled anybody in or ruled anybody out," the official said, refusing to speculate on who had the capability to carry out such an attack.
Over 20,000 US servicemen are deployed in the Gulf region, maintaining security in the area and enforcing international sanctions on Iraq.
Bin Laden, wanted in the United States for allegedly masterminding the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa which killed more than 220 people, is living in Afghanistan as a guest of the ruling Taliban militia.
Incirlik is home to the US and British airplanes patrolling the northern no-fly zone imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War in order to protect the Kurdish population in the region – WASHINGTON (AFP)
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