Bombs found after Blair holiday visit

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The Independent Online

Two explosive devices were found today in a Sardinian town close to where Tony Blair had been staying with the Italian prime minister just hours earlier.

Two explosive devices were found today in a Sardinian town close to where Tony Blair had been staying with the Italian prime minister just hours earlier.

Police discovered the devices in the coastal town of Porto Rotondo after a local newspaper received a tip-off, according to local news reports.

Mr Blair and his wife Cherie left Sardinia yesterday after visiting Silvio Berlusconi's Villa Certosa.

Security for the Prime Minister's visit to Italy had been exceptionally tight in the wake of threats by Islamic terrorists to target the country over its role in Iraq.

Just a few days ago an al Qaida-linked group issued a statement in which it warned the Italian government that it had "dug its grave by its own hands" after it ignored a warning to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

The two unexploded devices were found by bomb disposal police after a tip-off from a caller claiming to be from "Proletarian Combatant Groups", it was reported.

Downing Street made no immediate comment on the reports.

Mr and Mrs Blair arrived in Sardinia on Monday, having already been to Barbados and Athens - for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games - since embarking on their summer holiday late last month.

The Prime Minister was widely criticised for accepting the invitation to stay at Mr Berlusconi's luxury 27-bedroom villa on the north-east coast, near Porto Rotondo.

Although it was billed as private visit, the Blairs were widely pictured in the media after Mr Berlusconi whisked them off on a boat trip to the nearby "millionaires' playground" of Porto Cervo.

It was also claimed that they were treated to a private fireworks display and feted with a concert in the villa's amphitheatre.

At the end of last week, it emerged that Italian police inadvertently sent details of the Blairs' visit to media outlets - claiming a faulty fax machine was responsible.

The couple arrived in Sardinia just a day after a statement appeared on an Islamic website, in which the Italian government was warned about the continuing presence of its troops in Iraq.

The statement, signed by the Abu-Hafs al-Masri Brigades, declared a "bloody war" and said "the earth will be shaken under the feet of any Italian".

However, on its own site, Abu-Hafs al-Masri Brigades denied giving the ultimatum to Italy.

Reports suggested that the two devices had been planted in rubbish bins by a local left-wing group.

A Downing Street spokesman later said: "It is a matter for the Italian authorities and it is our practice not to comment on security matters."

The group said to have planted the bombs was an Italian anarchist group which has undertaken 20 attacks in the last four years, according to Italy's biggest selling daily paper, the Corriere della Sera.

In a telephone warning to a Sardinian newspaper last night, the group said one of the bombs was located in a large bin near the centre of Porto Rotondo.

"The other one - we're not telling you, go and find it. It's for Berlusconi," the voice said, according to the Corriere.

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