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12 teams withdraw from cheerleading competition at West Edmonton Mall following threat

Shoppers pack West Edmonton Mall Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Shannon Greer / Global News

EDMONTON — A number of cheerleading teams have pulled out of a major competition being held at West Edmonton Mall next weekend, after the popular attraction was listed as a possible target in a recent video released by extremist group al-Shabab.

Denise Fisher, executive director of the Alberta Cheerleading Association, said 12 teams have dropped out of the 2015 ACA Cheerleading Championships, which begins Friday, March 6.

“The biggest reason that’s been cited, of course, is the potential threat that was made against the West Edmonton Mall,” said Fisher.

READ MORE: Police say ‘no imminent threat’ after West Edmonton Mall named as possible terror target

The event draws cheer teams from across Western Canada. Fisher said there are about 175 teams registered for the competition, which will still go ahead as planned.

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“ACA has received confirmation from the West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton Police Service and RCMP that it is safe for ACA to host the 2015 ACA Cheerleading Championships at West Edmonton Mall,” said Fisher.

Fischer said the ACA is working closely with the mall and policing agencies to ensure competition attendees are safe.

“West Edmonton Mall has confirmed that there will be significantly increased mall and police presence in the mall during the competition, although many will be plain-clothes officers,” she said.

Additional security will also be brought in by the ACA. According to Fischer, the annual competition draws in about 15,000 participants and spectators.

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