Islamic extremists suspected in a bomb attack in a Pakistani market that killed more than 100 people had also planned an attack against the Vatican in 2010 that was never carried out, an Italian prosecutor said Friday.
The alleged foiled plot, known to authorities for years, was revealed as prosecutors announced the results of a decade-long investigation into an Italy-based terror network that aimed to stop Pakistan’s actions against the Taliban. Police arrested nine suspects related to the probe Friday throughout Italy. Another nine were being sought, three of whom were believed to still be in the country.
Wiretaps collected as part of the investigation gave “signals of some preparation for a possible attack” at the Vatican, prosecutor Mauro Mura told a news conference in Cagliari, Sardinia. That included the arrival in Rome of a Pakistani suicide bomber, Mura said.
The Pakistani eventually left Italy, Mura said, without explaining why. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that there were two suicide bombers and that they were warned off by their associates in Italy when police began executing search warrants in the wider investigation of the Italy-based Islamic terror network.
The Vatican downplayed the significance of the alleged plot.
“From what it appears, this concerns a hypothesis that dates from 2010 which didn’t occur. It has therefore no relevance today and no reason for particular concern,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.
Report filed by The Associated Press