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US to beef up security after Paris attacks

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The United States will beef up security at government buildings and airports after last week's deadly attacks in Paris, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Monday.

[WASHINGTON] The United States will beef up security at government buildings and airports after last week's deadly attacks in Paris, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Monday.

The "precautionary" measures were not in response to specific threats, following a spate of recent violence, including an attack that left 12 people dead at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Five more people were killed in assaults at separate locations.

"Recent world events call for increased vigilance in homeland security," Johnson said in a statement.

However, he cautioned: "We have no specific, credible intelligence of an attack of the kind in Paris last week being planned by terrorist organisations in this country." Government offices in several cities across the country will see enhanced security.

Last week, officials "took steps to enhance the number of random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage" at US airports, Mr Johnson said.

Additional measures could be taken in the future if required.

"We will not hesitate to take more when and if necessary, without unduly burdening the traveling public," Mr Johnson said.

"The reasons for these measures should be self-evident to the public: the recent attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney and elsewhere, along with the recent public calls by terrorist organisations for attacks on Western objectives." The United States will host a summit on February 18 in Washington on how to fight "violent extremism around the world."

Mr Johnson said his agency would "continue its efforts to partner with the governments of France and other key counterterrorism allies to share information about terrorist threats and individuals of suspicion." He encouraged Americans to adhere to the "If You See Something, Say Something" policy, but tamped down fears of travel.

"We urge Americans to continue to travel, attend public events and freely associate with others," Mr Johnson said.

"However, given world events, this is a time for heightened vigilance by federal, state and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, as well as the public." The Washington summit will highlight US and international efforts to prevent the radicalisation and recruitment of followers in the United States and other countries by extremist groups, officials said.

In October, Mr Johnson announced enhanced security at government buildings following threats from Islamist groups.

AFP