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In terror's wake, Amtrak on alert for threats

(The following report by Marie Szaniszlo appeared on the Boston Herald website on March 12.)

BOSTON -- Local rail officials alerted workers to be on the lookout for suspicious activity in the wake of yesterday's rail-station bombings, the worst terrorist attack in Spain's history.

Explosions at three Madrid stations prompted Amtrak to circulate a notice to its police and other staff to maintain a ``high level of vigilance,'' spokesman Cliff Black said.

Although authorities have reported no specific threat against U.S. railways, Amtrak has conducted electronic surveillance via closed-circuit television and random checks with bomb-sniffing dogs since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Ticket sellers are also required to ask for photo IDs to cross-reference with a watch list of suspected terrorists, Black said.

At the MBTA, spokeswoman Lydia Rivera said no changes were planned as a result of yesterday's bombings, which killed at least 192 people and wounded more than 1,400.

The United States' terror alert remained at yellow, an elevated level. Based on current intelligence, Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, ``We do not have similar corresponding threats directed to the U.S.'' But that could change, Roehrkasse added, as the investigation continues.

Spanish police found a van with detonators and an audiotape of Koranic verses near where the bombed trains originated.

(Herald wire services contributed to this report.)

Friday, March 12, 2004

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