updated 12/5/2005 9:58:25 AM ET 2005-12-05T14:58:25

Italy’s interior minister said Friday the security plan for the Winter Olympics in Turin was in an advanced stage of preparation, and he repeated a warning that the games — now 70 days away — could be a possible target for terrorists.

In an address to parliament to update lawmakers on security measures put in place over the summer, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said Italy remained a possible target of terrorists, and this included the Feb. 10-26 Olympics.

Police had devised “a broad and careful plan for public order and security that is now in an advanced phase of realization,” Pisanu said.

Event with 'global resonance'
The plan provided for 9,000 police, a central control room connected to 21 onsite operational centers, and a central national information room connected to police and intelligence services of numerous countries.

“The global resonance of the event and the fact that it coincides with the electoral campaign could be of great interest to terrorist organizations,” referring to Italy’s general election, expected in April.

Some 2,500 athletes and 1 million spectators are expected at the games.

In his address Friday, Pisanu mentioned messages posted on Web sites with links to al-Qaida that have threatened attacks against Italy because it has troops in Iraq.

Such threats “try to raise our raise our perception of risk playing on their knowledge of Italian politics,” he said.

Italy raised its security alert after the July 7 suicide bombings in London’s transit system, stepping up measures at airports, government buildings, embassies and monuments.

New anti-terrorism measures
A series of anti-terrorism measures that were approved by parliament shortly afterward have allowed authorities to hold terror suspects longer without charges had been applied in 10 cases, and that in two of these DNA samples had been taken from the suspects.

He said another measure had allowed the expulsions of four people held to be a threat to security, noting that 16 other expulsions had been carried out using previously existing laws.

He also said anti-terror drills were carried out recently in Milan, Rome, Naples and Turin, adding that the exercises had brought to attention “a few problems in the chain of command” between different branches of the Italian authorities.

He said unannounced anti-terrorism exercises would be held in other parts of the country.

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