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Driver arrested after ramming car through Vatican gate

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The Local/AFP ([email protected])
Driver arrested after ramming car through Vatican gate
A 40-year-old man reached the Vatican's central San Damaso courtyard (pictured above) after ramming his car through a gate on Thursday evening. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Police arrested a man who used his car to force a gate at the Vatican City on Thursday evening after he was refused entry, said officials at the Holy See.

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The incident happened just after 8pm, when the man pulled up to the Santa Anna gate – one of the main entrances to the Vatican.

After the Swiss Guard on patrol turned him away as he didn't have an entry pass, he came back driving "at great speed, forcing the two checkpoints," according to an official statement.

A member of the Vatican gendarmes reportedly fired a shot at the speeding car’s front tyres, but the car kept moving.

Officers sounded an alert and all other access points to the Vatican were sealed off, as well as the main gate to the piazza in front of Pope Francis’s residence.

Once the car reached the central San Damaso courtyard – where Pope Francis regularly holds meetings during the day – the driver got out of his own accord and was immediately arrested by Vatican gendarmes. 

The unidentified driver was subjected to a medical examination which determined that he suffered from a "serious psychophysical" condition.

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The man was being detained in a cell at the Vatican pending an investigation, the statement said.

It was not clear whether Pope Francis, who lives on the other side of the Vatican, was anywhere near the incident. 

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Though incidents of this type are rare, this was not the first time that someone has caused a disturbance at the Vatican. 

In 2009, during Christmas Eve Mass, a woman jumped the barricade of St Peter’s Basilica and tried to attack Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope was not harmed, though a cardinal walking in the procession broke his hip in the commotion.

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