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White House staff are pictured after they lowered the U.S. flag to half staff on the roof of the White House in Washington September 12, 2012.Reuters

The United States State Department has issued worldwide travel alert to its citizens, warning them of a possible terror attack in the month of August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.

"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula," a statement from the State Department said.

"Current information suggests that Al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.  This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013," added the statement.

The department also listed 21 U.S. embassies and consulates that will be remained closed on Sunday owing to security reasons. U.S. embassies in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen will be closed, while the consulates that will be shut are Arbi, Dhahran, Jeddah and Dubai.

A U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the travel alert was based on the same intelligence information that prompted it to close 21 U.S. embassies or consulates this Sunday, chiefly those in the Muslim world. Another source added that there was no information on a specific target, which was the reason for the broad alert.

The department said that terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests and reminded its citizens of the potential attack at public places including public transportation systems, subway and rail systems, aviation, maritime services and other tourist infrastructure.

"U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling," it said.

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, who met Vice President Joe Biden along with other lawmakers to discuss the threat, told CNN's "New Day" programme that "It's my understanding that it is Al Qaeda-linked and the threat emanates in the Middle East and in Central Asia".

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