Rome/Islamabad, April 24: Italian police on Friday arrested 18 people in what5 they called a “vast” operation against a group allegedly inspired by the Al Qaeda and planning an attack on the Vatican.
All those arrested were Pakistanis and Afghans, police said.
The group was based on the island of Sardinia and was plotting attacks against the Pakistan government and US forces in Afghanistan, according to police.
Most of the arrests were made in Sardinia but the operation covered seven Italian provinces, police said.
Some of the those arrested are alleged to be responsible for terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including an attack in 2009 on a market in the northwest frontier city of Peshawar that killed more than 100 people, according to the police.
Those arrested were plotting an attack against the Vatican, police said citing wiretap evidence.
A Pakistani citizen arrived in Italy in 2010 with the alleged intention of carrying out a suicide bombing for the group, investigators said.
The suspect was immediately identified by Italy’s anti-terrorism DIGOS police branch but the cell maged to get him out of the country as police searched for him, according to investigators.
The Vatican was aware of an alleged terrorist plot against it in 2010 (during the papacy of Benedict XVI) but had not learned of any subsequent threats, its spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Friday.
Following the report, the Pakistan foreign office said that its embassy in Rome was in contact with the Italian government to get details regarding the arrest of the suspected terrorists.
In a statement issued on its Twitter page, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said that the embassy was also inquiring about the tiolities of the terrorists. (IANS)