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NATO surveillance planes to patrol World Cup

Written by: Staff
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BRUSSELS, June 7 (Reuters) NATO put 24 surveillance planes on standby today to help Germany protect the soccer World Cup against a terrorist attack from the skies.

''NATO has agreed to augment German air surveillance...during the various ceremonies and football matches,'' the alliance said in a statement, adding that the move followed a German request.

Seventeen NATO planes based in Germany and a seven based in Britain will take part in the mission. The modified Boeing 707 aircraft are equipped with radar able to detect other air traffic at distances of more than 200 nautical miles (360 km).

The 31-day tournament kicks off on Friday. The NATO planes will conduct flights across venues in Germany until July 9.

NATO surveillance planes have been used in over 30 events ranging from this year's Winter Olympic Games in Turin to the Pope's recent visit to Poland.

German officials say there is no concrete indication that Islamist militants are planning attacks, but talk of a high general ''abstract risk''.

Last time the World Cup was held in Europe, in France in 1998, Belgian authorities foiled a suspected plot by Algerian militants to launch an attack during the tournament.

REUTERS SHB BST1938

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