Italy on heightened alert over Islamist threat

The head of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard confirmed additional precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of Pope Francis. Police standing guard outside the Vatican: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Security at the Vatican and across Italy has been stepped up because of a perceived heightened risk of attacks by Islamist militants, officials said on Wednesday.

A day after the Italian cabinet approved new security measures because of fears of a terrorist spillover from the chaos engulfing Libya, the head of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard confirmed additional precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of Pope Francis.

“What happened in Paris with the Charlie Hebdo attacks could also happen at the Vatican. We are ready to intervene to ensure Francis is protected,” Christoph Graf told Italian daily Il Giornale.

“We have asked all the Swiss guards to be more attentive and to carefully monitor the movement of people,” he added, stressing that it was up to the intelligence services to provide detailed information on any potential threat…

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