Mon, Dec 29, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Berlusconi lets slip terror plot to attack Vatican on Dec. 25

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Terrorists planned to use a hijacked jet for a Christmas Day attack on the Vatican, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was quoted as saying in an interview published on Saturday.

"We had precise information about an attack from the sky on Rome with the Vatican as the objective," Berlusconi reportedly told the Milan daily Libero. But his office denied he had given an interview and Berlusconi himself hinted the quotes had been invented by the reporter.

"You can't confuse a rapid exchange of Christmas wishes with a political declaration," the prime minister's office said in a three-page interview under a front-page headline "Christmas night with Berlusconi."

"The papers don't come out tomorrow, right? Then I can tell you that the real question is ... precise and verified information about an attack on Rome on Christmas Day. A hijacked plane on the Vatican -- an attack from the sky, you understand?" he is quoted as telling Libero.

Yet the gist of Berlusconi's revelation appeared to be confirmed on Saturday by the mayor of Rome.

"Many of us spent the afternoon of 24 December working, but without feeling the need to reveal things it had been agreed should remain confidential," Walter Veltroni said.

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