ROME – Italian police will close the main road leading to the Vatican every night during the Christmas holidays as part of measures to boost security after warnings of an attack on Christian sites, a local official said Sunday.
The decision comes after newspaper La Repubblica reported that the Israeli secret services had warned of a “probable attack in Italy” against a major Christian symbol at Christmas.
A spokesman for the Italian Interior Ministry declined to comment on the report but less than 24 hours after the article was published, police said security was being stepped up at the Vatican, which is home to Pope John Paul.
The Conciliazione, a broad avenue that runs from the river Tiber to St. Peter’s basilica, will be closed to traffic from midnight until 7 a.m. from Monday night.
Police will also patrol the huge square in front of St. Peter’s day and night.
“This measure was taken following a meeting of Rome’s public order and security committee,” a spokesman for the local government said.
Similar measures would be taken around major Italian churches such as St. Mark’s in Venice and Santa Maria Novella in Florence, La Repubblica reported.
Italy has been on heightened alert for terror attacks since a suicide bomber killed 19 Italians last month in a strike against a military police headquarters in Iraq.