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IN SHORT

Pope well protected

SOMEONE is threatening to kill Pope John Paul II during his visit to Slovakia, the head of the state's office for the protection of top officials has confirmed.

Ján Packa, head of the Office for the Protection of Constitutional Officials, said on September 9 to the Slovak daily Nový čas that a man was threatening to assassinate the Pope, but refused to provide any further details on the case.

Packa said: "It would be premature, untactful, and improper to provide more information. Publishing details helps potential attackers adjust to the approved (security) measures."

The Pope will be in Slovakia for a four-day visit between September 11 and 14, his third to the country since the fall of communism.

In addition to John Paul II's own bodyguards, Slovakia will put more than 5,000 officers on non-stop duty during the Pope's visit, and about 500 specially trained Slovak bodyguards from Packa's office.

On his way through four Slovak towns - Rožňava, Banská Bystrica, Trnava, and the capital Bratislava - police snipers will oversee the Pope's safe journey. Packa said his men were ready to die for the Pope.

"We are responsible for the safety of the head of the Catholic Church during his visit to Slovakia. The bodyguards are prepared to lay down their lives for the Pope," Packa added.

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