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Airports to step up explosives checks

Associated Press / February 18, 2010

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WASHINGTON - Air travelers may have their hands swabbed more often as part of a stepped-up effort to screen passengers for explosives, an Obama administration official said yesterday.

Airports were told that more passengers should be randomly screened for explosives before, during, and after they go through metal detectors, the official said. The screening could include swabbing hands or carry-on luggage to check for traces of explosives, said the official, who requested anonymity.

The heightened screening follows a Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner. A Nigerian man accused of being trained by Al Qaeda operatives has been charged with trying to blow up the plane with explosives hidden in his underwear.

Other security measures have been enhanced since then. Heightened screening measures have been tested at five airports over the past month.

TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said the stepped-up screening is random and that travelers will not see the same procedures at all airports.