Pope Francis could be gunned down on his home turf by jihadists on Wednesday — or blown up in Albania Sunday.
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from his popemobile as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Security has been tightened in Saint Peter's Square after intelligence services intercepted a possible plan to attack the Vatican, Italian media reported Saturday, increasing fears Pope Francis could be in danger.
A foreign security service alerted Italy this week after intercepting a conversation between two Arab speakers which referred to "a demonstrative act, Wednesday, at the Vatican," Il Messaggero daily reported.
Wednesday is the day the pope holds his weekly general audience in the square in front of Saint Peter's Basilica.
Checks by Italy's anti-terrorism unit revealed that one of the speakers passed through the country eight months ago, heightening concerns the threat may be real.
The pope's security team has previously been tipped off that when the pope visits the majority-Muslim nation of Albania on Sunday, he could face an assassination attempt from agents of the Islamic State.
As the AFP noted, Italian law enforcement are working with the Vatican's security forces to keep tourists under surveillance and deploy bomb-sniffing dogs to Saint Peter's Square, but with both the warnings about the dangers at home and in Albania, the official Vatican response has been to downplay the severity of the threat.
Ironically, as the Associated Press reported, Pope Francis' Sunday visit to Albania is meant to speak to historical ties between Muslims and Christians.
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