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NEWS Last modified on July 7, 2014

US ramps up security at certain overseas airports

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not allow mobile phones or other electronic devices on US-bound aircraft at some overseas airports if the devices are not charged up.

The agency announced the new measure yesterday, part of its effort announced last week to boost security amid concerns after fears Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations are planning an attack.

As part of the increased scrutiny at certain airports, security agents may ask passengers to turn on their electronic devices at checkpoints and if they do not have power, the devices will not be allowed on aircraft the TSA explains.

Laptops computers are among the devices security screeners may require travellers to turn on, and US security officials are concerned that a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or other electronic device could be used as a bomb.

Smartphones such as Apple iPhones, and Samsung Galaxy mobiles phones have been singled out for extra security checks on US-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The TSA has also urged closer checks on passengers' shoes, which could be another way of planting a bomb.

Last week, US Government Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, directed the TSA to implement enhanced measures at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the US.

A TSA statement says: “As the travelling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones.

“Powerless devices will not be permitted on-board the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.

“TSA will continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travellers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security conducted as conveniently as possible.”

It is not known how many airports will be affected by the measures, or if the new directive will see long delays for travellers, and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials say they are unable to reveal at which gateways it will take place.

The DHS explains: "Information about other specific enhancements and locations are sensitive as we do not wish to divulge information about specific layers of security to those who would do us harm.

"Out of an abundance of caution, DHS has shared relevant information with international and private sector partners.”

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