By Johnlee Varghese
Alerts once again has been sounded in Italy after Interior Minister Angelino Alfani issued a warning that Vatican could be targeted by the Islamic State as the Sunni-militant group views the country as a symbol of Western culture.
In his address to the lower house of the parliament on Tuesday, Alfani emphasised that though the security agencies still have no information on an attack, there are ample proof that suggest neither Italy or the Pope are "secondary targets."
"The objective of ISIS is targeting the West and as an icon that represents - historical, cultural and political aspects " Alfani said reported Jerusalem Online.
Alfani in his speech also noted that since Vatican was the residency of Pope, it could be used a number one target by the Islamic State militants. The Italian minister stated that his fear of an imminent attack by ISIS stems from the fact that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had hinted in speeches that Rome was its target.
As per estimates, there are at least 48 ISIS fighters, who have some connection to Italy and could undertake an attack, he said.
The minister so called on the security agencies to intensify the monitoring of the borders in light of these perceived threats.
The statement from the Italian Minster comes at a time when only recently Vatican rubbished claims that ISIS was planning to assassinate Pope Francis.?
"There is nothing serious to this. This news has no foundation," Father Federico Lombardi SJ, a Vatican spokesman, had told Catholic News Agency (CNA).
An attack on Vatican and the plot to assassinate Pope had gained traction after an Italian daily Il Tempo, reported that the Pope is "in the crosshairs of ISIS".
The 77-year-old religious leader was being targeted because he is "the greatest exponent of the Christian religions" and the "bearer of false truth," the report had stated.