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More than 100 Britons have been killed in the last two years in terrorist attacks in Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Somalia, Niger and Nigeria
(Photograph: Sarah Dilley/Leila Sarbal/Facebook)
Britain will ground a number of flights from six African nations.
Shoe bomber Richard Reid, who tried to set off a bomb on a US airliner in 2001, was an MI5 agent.
In June 2017, British diplomats evacuated more than 100 diplomats in all six countries following the discovery of an explosive device.
The BBC understands this latest move is over concerns about the ‘lone wolf’ terror threat of small units of British-based terrorists.
UK Secretary of State for Business Greg Clark said it was “difficult and unprecedented” to be so vigilant about the potential for harm from international flights.
He added: “We cannot allow a small number of people to endanger thousands of British lives.
“Not only are we doing this with out airlines, but we are helping airport operators to be able to take the steps they need to limit the disruption of flights, to minimise the impact on their passengers and to protect their own safety.
“This is unprecedented, and we will be giving these countries the space they need to react.”
BBC Africa correspondent Kayla Fox said the travel warnings apply to 26 countries in total, and will not apply to UK airports, and airlines are not obliged to heed the authorities’ advice.
She added the move is a sign of concern from the British government about the threat.