The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said he was given precise details before Christmas of a planned terrorist attack on Rome and the Vatican.

The attack, which involved hijacking a plane, was supposed to have taken place on Christmas Day. Mr Berlusconi gave no further details.

Christmas celebrations at the Vatican led by Pope John Paul passed without incident, and there were no reports of any foiled attack.

A Vatican spokesman, asked about Berlusconi's comments, said he did not comment on security matters.