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Al-Qaeda group pledges to spare Vatican from terror

A group linked to Al-Qaeda yesterday said the Vatican is not on its list of terror targets, but warned Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that he would regret rejecting an ultimatum to pull Italian troops out of Iraq.

"We declare that the Vatican will never be one of our targets, as we will only strike in painful places which will force the vile Italian soldiers in Iraq to get out," said a statement signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades-European Battalion, and posted on an Islamist website.

"We warn you, Berlusconi, that you may have escaped attempts against you in the past, but our position is clear and we will not be lenient and we will not stop until security becomes reality in the Muslim country of Iraq," it said.

"We will not rest until we transform life in your country into hell as long as your soldiers are on the land of peace in Iraq."

Italy has been a staunch supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq and maintains about 3000 troops in the country.

Al- Qaeda Group To Spare Vatican, Focus Attacks On Italy: Website (AFP/Turkish Press 29/8/04)

Online statement denies Vatican as target (Seattle Post-Iltelligencer/Associated Press 29/8/04)
Al-Qaeda group to spare Vatican (The Weekend Australian 29/8/04)
Report: Islamic terrorists from Bosnia planned attack on Vatican (Spirit Daily)
Pope Condems Killing Italian Journalist in Iraq (Zenit 27/8/04)
In World Youth Day message, pope urges youth to follow Christ's light (Catholic News Service 26/8/04)
Killing of Italian hostage condemned by Pope and Prime Minister (Catholic News Agency 27/8/04)

30 Aug 2004