Tighter US air security

ABUJA - A Nigerian man's botched attempt to blow up a US-bound plane on Christmas Day probably would not have occurred if new US airline security measures had been in place, the US homeland security secretary said.

Washington has subsequently heightened its aviation security since January for travellers coming into the US after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on a flight to Detroit from Amsterdam.

"I believe that (the new measures) would in all likelihood have gotten Abdulmutallab before he got on board his flight to Detroit," Janet Napolitano told Reuters in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

Napolitano was in Nigeria to meet with her African counterparts ahead of a regional summit on bolstering global aviation security.

"(The measures) are not based on national origin, gender or anything else. They are based on particular passengers that are passed on before they board the plane," she said. Nigeria said its inclusion on the US list, which included Cuba, Iran and Iraq, could have threatened bilateral ties.

The new system would require US-bound travellers who match information about terrorism suspects, such as a physical description, partial name or travel pattern, to undergo additional screening. - Reuters