"Killer truck" feared in Italy

| Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Italian authorities erected roadblocks last week across the country, fearing that Muslim militants in a "killer truck" laden with explosives may attack a major road link, according to published reports. Media reports said security forces believed the truck might contain one or two tons of explosives - enough to destroy a tunnel.

"We have information on fairly good sources that there may be a killer truck in the country," a government source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. "We will keep up roadblocks until we find it or until the threat passes."

Trucks entering main road tunnels that crisscross the center of the country were being stopped last week for thorough checks, while security was also stepped up at southern ferry ports and border crossings to France, Switzerland and Austria.

Fears of an imminent attack surfaced early last week and a government official sent an internal memo to security forces warning that All Saints long weekend (Thursday to Sunday) was a high-risk period. The newspaper quoted security sources Friday as saying a group of Afghan activists carrying passports from European Union countries was believed to be behind the alleged plan.

The Italian government has assigned an extra 4,000 soldiers and paramilitary police to guard military camps and other installations, including the half-dozen U.S. and NATO bases scattered around the country.