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Ambulances feared as tools for terrorists


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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Ambulances and other emergency vehicles are being screened by law enforcement authorities amid concern that the vehicles may be used in a possible terrorist attack, New Jersey's governor told CNN Tuesday.

Gov. James McGreevey said hospitals across his state have been asked to provide information about their vehicles so authorities can "monitor ambulances, particularly if they're moving across the Hudson River" to New York City.

McGreevey said his state is doing all it can to prevent a terrorist attack. But at the same time, he said, authorities are "concerned about emergency vehicles."

"God forbid whether that emergency vehicle itself possesses a dangerous substance, or it answers the call -- say for example -- of an explosion and that vehicle itself possessed weaponry, weapons of mass destruction, [or] gas that may produce some further damage," McGreevey said.

The Department of Homeland Security raised the U.S. terror alert level to orange, or "high" -- second most serious on the five-tiered scale -- on December 21 and warned that major cities could be targeted during the holiday period.

Security efforts across the United States have been "ramped up in an unprecedented way" through the end of the week, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Tuesday. (Full story)

Some major cities such as New York; Washington; Chicago, Illinois; and Las Vegas, Nevada, plan to close parts or all of their airspace on New Year's Eve, when huge crowds traditionally gather to celebrate in public. (Full story)

McGreevey said authorities are concerned about possible attacks on the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge -- the three major transportation routes across the Hudson River to New York City.

One security measure implemented ahead of New Year's Eve, he said, is that state police are conducting "random searches of all vehicles" entering the Lincoln Tunnel.

The governor urged residents and tourists going through the tunnel to be patient.

"We understand this may be an infringement on civil liberties, but most importantly we have a responsibility to keep our families safe," the governor said.


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