Police suspect Rome bombings tied to French president's visit

Jan. 24, 2014 at 1:14 PM
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VATICAN CITY, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Italian police said Friday they were checking whether a series of bombings and threats in Rome were tied to a visit to the Vatican by the president of France.

One threat, received from an anonymous caller while President Francois Hollande met with Pope Francis, said a bomb was beneath a 17th century colonnade at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The report did not indicate if an explosive device was found.

Earlier Friday, an explosive damaged several cars in central Rome. Another bomb detonated outside a foundation linked to France's embassy to the Vatican.

No one was reported injured in either blast.

During his private visit with Hollande, the pope joked he and the French president shared the same name. Francis is Francois in French.

When Hollande gave the pope a book about St. Francis of Assisi, Francis told him "this is your patron too."

The men talked for about 35 minutes with the help of an interpreter.

Afterward, Hollande met with Vatican secretary of state Pietro Parolin, a cardinal-designate, Vatican Radio reported.

The last French president to visit the Vatican was Nicolas Sarkozy, who was received by Benedict XVI in October 2010.

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