The 11 bases in and around the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg will be handed over to the German government by September 2007, a statement from the army's European headquarters in Heidelberg said on Friday.

Two more bases near Wuerzburg will close and be handed over in subsequent years.

The closures are part of plans to return the headquarters of the US army's 1st Infantry Division to the United States in mid-2006 and relocate other units.

The US Department of Defence said the changes will affect about 6100 soldiers and 11,000 family members as well as about 1000 army civilian employees and 1000 civilians employed locally.

The US is withdrawing forces that had been based in Western Europe to confront the Soviet Union during the Cold War, bringing many units home and opening smaller, more flexible bases to respond to new threats, including international terrorism.

FBI new offices

Meanwhile, the FBI plans to open two offices in West Africa early next year, a region where South American drug cartels, international diamond smugglers and Islamist extremists are all thought to be operating.
  
The US law enforcement agency, one of whose main priorities is protecting the United States from attack, will set up offices in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, and one in Freetown, Sierra Leone, an FBI spokesman in Washington said.  

Security analysts say the main concerns in the vast region are pockets of Islamic militants in and around the Sahara desert and organised crime groups dealing in drugs, human-trafficking and money-laundering along the West African coast.
   
The FBI, which already has offices in Nigeria and Morocco, said the operations in Dakar and Freetown would be "legal attache offices", generally based in US embassies or consulates around the world to help fight international crime.

In an address at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, on 10 September 2003, US President George Bush called on Congress to "untie the hands" of law enforcement and pass tougher anti-terrorism legislation to deny bail to terror suspects and expand those eligible for the death penalty.