Turin security at 89m euros and counting

TURIN, Italy – Italy has already spent more than 89 million euros on security for the Turin Winter Olympics, a figure that will increase over coming weeks, the interior minister said yesterday. Giving the first official figure for security spending for the February 10-26 Olympics, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said security arrangements are on schedule and that Italian officials are «reasonably optimistic» they will be able to thwart any terrorist threats. Speaking after a meeting with local security officials in Turin, Pisanu reiterated earlier warnings that the Games and the ongoing political campaign ahead of Italy’s April 9 general elections «could attract the attention of international terrorist groups.» He also repeated that there were no specific terrorist threats against the Olympics or against Italy, but said authorities are keeping tabs on Islamic terror groups and anarchists on the far left. Surveillance is mainly being carried out by a specially formed information center that coordinates intelligence from national and international security forces, Pisanu said. The 89 million euros will cover manpower, including the deployment of more than 9,000 extra officers for the Olympics, but the cost will increase in the runup the Games, Pisanu said. He said the extra security personnel had already been trained. «Each of these knows exactly what his duty is, who he needs to team up with, and in which chain of command he is inserted,» the minister said. Greece spent about 1.2 billion euros for security for the 2004 Games in Athens, while about 260 million euros went toward security for the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002. Pisanu also reiterated that Italian security will be in charge during the Games, though foreign security agencies will be included in the information center. Security officials are drawing on experience from handling previous major events, including the funeral of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Accredited armed guards will be allowed to complement security details of foreign dignitaries, while an AWACS surveillance plane deployed by NATO will help control the airspace over the Olympics, the interior minister said. Pisanu cited the work of Italian authorities in recent years in arresting 203 suspected members of Islamic terrorist cells, 27 of whom were expelled, and 94 left-wing extremists. (AP)

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