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U.S. missile strike kills German militants in Pakistan

BERLIN - An American missile strike killed five German militants yesterday in the rugged Pakistan border area where a cell of Germans and Britons at the heart of the U.S. terror alert for Europe, a plot U.S. officials link to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, were believed in hiding.

The attack, part of a recent spike in American drone strikes on Pakistan, came as Germany said it has "concrete evidence" that at least 70 Germans have undergone paramilitary training in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and about a third have returned to Germany.

Authorities across Europe have heightened security following the U.S. warning of an al-Qaida-linked terror plot targeting London, Paris, Berlin and other European capitals.

Washington warned Americans over the weekend to use caution when traveling in Europe and imposed a curfew on some U.S. troops based in Germany. Yesterday, Britain, Japan and Sweden issued similar warnings of their own.

Police with sniffer dogs patrolled British subways, while soldiers and mounted police were dispatched to major churches in Paris - Notre Dame in the heart of the city and Sacre Coeur on the Right Bank. Paramilitary troops were seen patrolling the area around the Eiffel Tower, twice evacuated recently for unspecified threats.

The missile strike in Pakistan killed five German militants taking shelter in a house in North Waziristan, a known hub for foreign militants with links to al-Qaida, Pakistani officials said.

The terror cell said to be behind the Europe plot, eight Germans and a Briton, was believed to have been in hiding in the region. A second Briton was killed in a U.S. strike last month.

The German Federal Criminal Police Office said as many as 220 people have traveled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan for paramilitary training, and at least 70 have received it.

Despite the growing evidence of a terror plot, France, Britain and Germany, believed to be the targets of the scheme, have not changed their terror threat levels.

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