NATO urged to guard Olympics

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Greece asked NATO to provide aerial and sea surveillance against “a chemical, biological and nuclear incident” – boosting Athens’ massive security preparations for the August 13-29 Olympic Games, already costing a record $US800 million ($1.09 billion) and involving 50,000 police and troops.

Meanwhile, Europe’s travel industry – hoping for a rebound after two weak years – worried that yesterday’s attacks would scare off tourists, particularly Americans.

Ten bombs blew up four trains during morning rush hour in the Spanish capital, killing nearly 200 people.

Initially, Spain’s government blamed Basque separatists for the attack, but the main group seeking a Basque homeland, ETA, who has denied any role.

In Paris, President Jacques Chirac met with his Cabinet in response to the Madrid attacks after raising France’s alert level from yellow to orange, the second level in a four-tier alert system.

Portuguese authorities preparing for the Euro 2004 football championships said security concerns had shifted from rowdy fans to potential terrorist threats. Officials were mulling whether to install metal detectors at stadium gates.

In Germany, authorities in Bavaria and the city of Duesseldorf said they had ordered police at train stations to be especially vigilant, though Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the overall threat level to the country had not been raised.

Poland – which joined Spain in supporting the US-led war in Iraq – increased security at airports, train stations and other transport points, while in Hungary, police tightened security at the Spanish embassy in Budapest and train stations.

Britain and several other European countries, including Italy, Belgium and Ireland, did not increased the terror threat level, noting that air travel and transport networks were already heavily guarded after the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.