Terror Threat Prompts Heightened Security at Rome's Colosseum, Other Monuments

Metal detectors, X-ray machines and metal vehicle barricades part of new security program


ROME -- Tourists visiting the city's ancient Colosseum are walking through metal detectors, putting their bags through X-ray machines and will soon have to pass a set of metal barriers as part of a series of security measures prompted by the heightened terror threat, city officials said Friday.

The barriers are expected to go up next week around the monument's entrances and will serve the double purpose of keeping the lines tidy and the illegal vendors away from the crowds, said Liliana Ferraro, who oversees security for city council.

She said the move was not a response to a specific threat at the monument, which is Italy's most popular tourist destination with about 16,000 visitors a day. "It's an appropriate precaution," Ferraro said.

Italy's culture minister asked for the barrier about 10 days ago, and city officials approved the measure at a meeting Thursday, Culture Ministry spokeswoman Tiziana Benini said.

Pilgrims and tourists already pass through metal detectors to get into St. Peter's Basilica and in Rome's Capitoline Museums. Ferraro said the metal detectors, X-ray machines and closed-circuit TV cameras were added to the Colosseum about two weeks ago.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press