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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 19:26 GMT
Berlusconi in soccer bomb threat
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi did not give details of where the attack was planned
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has told an Italian newspaper he was the target of a suicide bomb plot at a football match.

"I am the subject of a direct threat," Mr Berlusconi said in an interview for the daily paper Libero. "A suicide bomber in a stadium aiming at me."

Mr Berlusconi, who owns soccer club AC Milan and sometimes watches them play, declined to give further details.

He said he was concerned that Italy as a nation was at risk of terror attacks.

Italy's military presence in Iraq is seen by many Italians as increasing the threat of a terrorist attack at home.

'We are exposed'

Mr Berlusconi, who has previously rejected the theory that sending troops to Iraq has upped the risk, told the conservative Libero: "It's not about me. This is about Italy.

"We are exposed to deadly terrorist attacks."

He did not say when the plot against him was uncovered or whether he was targeted at his club's San Siro stadium in Milan.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with US President George W Bush, 31 Oct 05
Mr Berlusconi reaffirmed Italy's backing for US President George Bush

The interview came only days after Mr Berlusconi spoke on television about having tried to dissuade US President George Bush from invading Iraq.

He said he had never wanted war and hoped his words would be heard across the Arab world.

At the same time, Mr Berlusconi reaffirmed his country's alliance with the US in a meeting with Mr Bush in Washington.

An interior ministry official has confirmed there was a suicide bomb threat against Mr Berlusconi, the Reuters news agency reports.

Speaking at a news conference about next year's Winter Olympics in Turin, Francesco Tagliente played down fears of a security risk to the Games.

However, he said border controls might be tightened ahead of the event and security forces mobilised.

Mr Berlusconi did not send troops to help US and British forces topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein in March 2003, but he did deploy forces after the fall of Baghdad.

Italy pulled about 300 troops out of Iraq earlier this year, but about 2,900 remain there as part of the US-led coalition.




SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Berlusconi crisis
23 Apr 05 |  Europe
Timeline: Italy
12 Oct 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Italy
30 Oct 05 |  Country profiles


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