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Qaeda-Linked Cells 'To Hit Italy'

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DUBAI (Reuters) - A militant group claiming links to al Qaeda said on Saturday its cells in Italy were ready to strike if the country did not withdraw troops from Iraq before an Aug. 15 deadline it set a week ago.

"The truce we had offered you ... to withdraw your troops has almost ended. Our cells in Rome and in all other Italian cities are prepared and ready to carry out their mission after the end of the truce on the 15th of this month," said a statement signed by Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades -- al Qaeda Organization.

"You won't feel safe in your homes. Each place will be a target after the end of the truce and the targets have been defined," it said.

Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades sent a statement last weekend to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper giving Italy 15 days to withdraw its forces from Iraq or face attacks.

Another group saying it had ties to al Qaeda and calling itself Abu Bakr al-Seddiq Brigades threatened to attack Denmark and El Salvador if they did not pull out of Iraq.

An Internet statement by the hitherto unheard of group threatened Denmark "attacks by mujahideen and rigged cars" if it did not withdraw and said El Salvador would hear "the language of blood."

Denmark has about 500 troops in Iraq. El Salvador will send 380 new troops this month to replace its current contingent.

The group's statement, posted on an Islamist Web site on Saturday, also claimed ties with Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades.

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