Vatican downplays report that it's under threat from Islamic terrorists

The Vatican on Monday rejected reports that it could be the next target of Islamist terrorists after last week's deadly attacks in France.

The move came as Pope Francis called for a "unanimous" global response to the Islamic State group as he left on his first official visit to the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Israeli state TV reported Sunday that U.S. intelligence services had warned the Vatican could be the next terrorist target, as international leaders joined an estimated 2 million people in a massive anti-terrorism rally in Paris.

But the Vatican's chief spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, on Monday said the Holy See had received no specific threats.

"We are adopting an attitude of caution and attention, but there is no sign of any specific risks," Lombardi said.

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"The Vatican and the pope may be targets, as are naturally all institutions in Italy and the rest of Europe. But it is not opportune to feed a state of particular alarm, because at the moment it is neither justified or well-founded," he said.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and senior Italian police said there was no evidence of a particular threat at the Vatican but stressed that the tiny city state was on high alert, especially following persistent threats from the Islamic State.

Security has also been beefed up in Rome's Jewish quarter, in front of media outlets and places of worship, and at popular tourist sites across the country.


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