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US, Britain ban devices on flights from 10 countries over ISIS fears

Washington: Because of intelligence showing that the Islamic State is developing a bomb hidden in portable electronics, the United States and Britain on Tuesday barred passengers from airports in a total of 10 Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptop computers, iPads and other devices larger than a cellphone aboard direct inbound flights.

American officials said the explosives were designed to be hidden in laptop batteries, reports the New York Times, adding that the officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive information.

The Trump administration maintained that the new restrictions did not signal a credible, specific threat of an imminent attack. Officials said the alert reflects concerns that the Islamic State is ready — or soon will be — to launch new capabilities against the West. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, declined to address the intelligence during a news media briefing on Tuesday.

Officials said passengers still could carry cellphones and other small devices into the airplane’s cabin, while larger items like laptops would have to be stowed with checked luggage.

In all, airports in 10 countries, stretching from North Africa to the Mideast and into Turkey, are affected by the new restrictions. Both the United States and Britain have imposed the ban on flights from some airports in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Washington also has restricted some flights from Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. London, meanwhile, has additionally restricted flights from some airports in Lebanon and Tunisia.