U.S. cautions citizens in Sweden over possible attacks in retaliation for Koran burning

WASHINGTON/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The U.S. embassy in Sweden has warned Americans in the country of possible retaliatory attacks in response to an incident where a far-right politician burned the Koran.

"U.S. citizens are advised to use caution when going to public venues frequented by large numbers of people," said a security alert on the embassy's website posted on Sunday, warning of possible attacks by unspecified actors in response to recent incidents in Europe where the Muslim holy book was burned.

A Swedish anti-immigration politician burned a copy of the Koran at a Stockholm protest last month against Turkey's opposition to Sweden's bid to join NATO.

"Gathering sites such as places of worship could be targeted. Please use caution when in, and around, all diplomatic facilities," the alert said, advising U.S. citizens to avoid crowds and keep a low profile.

The United States has not updated its travel advisory for Sweden, which currently tells Americans to exercise normal precautions in the country.

The protest in Stockholm drew sharp condemnation from Turkey, which said Sweden should not have allowed "anti-Islam" act, and suspended talks on NATO accession with Sweden and Finland.

Sweden's foreign ministry advised its citizens in Turkey to avoid crowds and demonstrations.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara, along with the missions of other Western nations, also issued security alerts over possible retaliatory attacks against places of worship, following the incident in Sweden and separate incidents in which the Koran was burned in the Netherlands and Denmark.

Sweden's security service was aware of the U.S. warning, said spokesperson Adam Samara, but referred questions to U.S. authorities. The service's own current assessment is that the threat of attacks remains "elevated" at level three on a five-level scale, Samara added.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Marie Mannes; Editing by Mark Potter)

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