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Sean MacEntee
World News

Italian police lift lid on 2010 Vatican bomb plot

by Hannah Tooley

According to the Guardian, a 6 year investigation that began with an illegal immigration probe saw investigators launch raids across Italy on Friday targeting 18 people thought to have links to the terrorist group al-Qaida.

It is not yet known how many people have been arrested, however the spiritual leader of the Muslim community on Sardina is thought to have been arrested. Other targeted members are thought to have fled the country.

Among those that police were searching for were men suspected of involvement in the October 2009 bombing of the Meena Bazaar in Peshwar which killed more than 100 people.

The group is also believed to have planned the demise of the Pakistani government, according to police.

Italian Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano described it as an "extraordinary operation".

He said: "With one sole investigation that started in 2009 we have succeeded in not only dismantling a network of people traffickers but also detaining several individuals accused of conspiring with terrorist aims and others of involvement in attacks."

A press conference was told that wiretaps suggested suspects had been planning an attack on the Vatican in 2010 and that a suicide bomber had arrived in Rome. However it was reported the suspected bomber left Rome.

Speaking in a statement Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman said: "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."

The raids come as there has been an increase in tension across Europe and the rest of the world - attacks in Paris, Sydney and Copenhagen have left more than people 20 dead, and it is reported detectives in Britain have made more than 200 terror-related arrests over 2014.

Warrants issued in Italy accuse the suspects of belonging to "an organisation dedicated to transnational criminal activities inspired by al-Qaida and other radical organisations pursuing armed struggle against the west and insurrection against the current government of Pakistan".

An officer in the Anti-Terrorism Unit, behind the investigation, Mario Carta, said the suspects had spoken "in ironic terms about the Pope".

Other recordings suggest two members of the network were part of Bin Laden's security unit before he was killed by US special forces in May 2011.

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