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Jets force plane down near Rome
Italian military jets have intercepted a plane flying over the capital Rome, where world leaders had gathered for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

BBC News | April 8, 2005

Two F-16s forced the aircraft - heading to the city's Ciampino airport - towards a nearby air base to land a few hours after the funeral.

There were fears a bomb may have been on board, but no explosives were found after the jet was inspected on landing.

A massive security operation has been under way all day around the capital.

Thousands of police, backed by the Italian army, were deployed to ensure public safety and the security of dignitaries for the funeral - one of the biggest in history.

Balkan plane

The aircraft was said to be an executive plane from the Balkans bound for Ciampino, which serves both military and civilian aircraft, the Italian Ansa news agency reported.

"It was intercepted after we received reliable intelligence there was a bomb on board," an Italian Air Force official told Reuters news agency.

The plane had been sent to fly home Serbia-Montenegro and Macedonian leaders after the funeral, Serbian officials say.

Air traffic was diverted away from the airspace over Rome during the Pope's funeral, and Ciampino airport was closed to commercial traffic on Friday.

Rome's main Fiumicino airport has remained open.

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