A camper that was modified to look like a tank set off a security alert after it was parked outside the Vatican.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, two hours before Pope John Paul II's general audience, a motorist reported to police that the vehicle, an old Fiat 131 fitted with a gun turret, was parked near St. Peter's Square.Police, keeping an eye out for possible terrorist attacks linked to the Persian Gulf war, towed the camper away.

Later, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that the director of a German comedy troupe told police that their vehicle - a camper dressed up as a tank for use as a TV prop - was missing.