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Pope caught in Vatican bomb scare

Pope John Paul II
Police are investigating a hoax bomb incident at the Vatican  

VATICAN -- Pope John Paul II has been caught up in a bomb alert after a man threatened to blow himself up at the Vatican.

The man, who is believed to be mentally unstable, was reported to have phoned a local television station warning that he was about to carry out a bombing at St Peter's Square on Wednesday.

The 45-year-old Italian was arrested carrying a hoax bomb -- empty tubes with dangling wires -- after shouting accusations against local politicians, Reuters news agency quoted police as saying.

The pope was holding his weekly general audience at the time, but it is not known how close he was to the incident.

Pope John Paul II 

The suspect, who police say has a history of psychological problems, was believed to have been protesting at corruption in his native southern Italy.

He had told the TV station that he was about to blow himself up outside the Vatican post offices in the square, but in fact he made his way to another part where pilgrims were queuing.

The man was screaming out that he wanted to meet journalists and magistrates to talk about the alleged corruption.

Police sealed off the area and temporarily stopped the flow of pilgrims into the square before preparations were resumed for the audience.




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