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    July 20, 2005 ITALY, Rome.

    Venice is one of the cities where tightened security measures will be used

    Rome, 18 July (AKI) - The Italian government will soon unveil an emergency plan to protect the country's major art cities, and the eighty million tourists who visit them annually, from terrorist attacks, Italy's culture minister Rocco Buttiglione announced over the weekend. Measures will include placing metal detectors in museums, a complete ban on backpacks and bags, the cordoning-off of areas adjacent to monuments, and monitoring of queues. Florence, Venice, Rome and Palermo, as well as Assisi and Pompei are likely to top of the list of cities where the anti-terror measures will be deployed, Buttiglione plans by September.

    "Together with [interior minister Giuseppe] Pisanu, I have formed a commission to study the most appropriate measures. It is now clear that the main threat to Italy's art treasures and monuments no longer comes from art thieves or deranged inviduals, but from terrrorism," said Buttiglione. "Inevitably, there wiill be some inconvenience for tourists, but it is a price worth paying for public safety," he added.

    The measures will complement Pisanu's plans to rapidly introduce tougher anti-terror measures , following the synchronised suicide bombings of central London's transport system that killed at least 54 people and injured 700. Pisanu's plans include giving the government greater powers to access phone and internet companies' records, longer detention in police custody and easier expulsion of terror suspects, as well as greater surveillance powers for police such as 'preventative' phone-tapping and infiltration of mosques and places police suspect Islamic militants may be meeting.

    Italy has 3,000 troops in Iraq, and has received various Islamist threats. Police have already foiled several terror plots, and it is considered one of the countries most at risk of a major terrorist attack. A no-fly zone for private planes has already been put in place over Florence, whose world-famous Uffizi museum was damaged by a bomb planted by the Sicilian mafia in May 1993. In July of the same year, two churches in Rome were also damaged by mafia bombs.