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Security Measures Strengthened Around St Peter’s Square

The security detail around St Peter’s Square has been “doubled” after recent reports that Pope Francis might be a target for the Islamic State jihadist group, Italy’s ANSA news agency said Friday.

ANSA quoted “qualified sources” as saying security measures had been strengthened at least since Wednesday when extra Italian police units joined Vatican security staff for the pope’s weekly open-air public audience.

The Vatican was not immediately available for comment.

However, its spokesman Federico Lombardi said this week that there were no particular concerns about Francis’ trip Sunday to Albania, his first to a Muslim majority country, to be followed by a visit to Turkey in November.

On Saturday, the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, Habeeb al-Sadr, gave an interview to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero in which he said he had warned Vatican authorities about possible threats to the pope.

“Our analysts, our intelligence, have put forward such hypotheses,” al-Sadr said. “We know well how these terrorists think. They have high-profile targets. I would not exclude that they could manage to attack him.”

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano also said this month that there was a risk of Rome being hit by a terrorist attack.

GNA

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