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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Investigators Inspect Embassy Tunnel

ROME -- Security experts from the U.S. State Department joined Italian investigators Tuesday to inspect a tunnel running alongside the U.S. Embassy in Rome in connection with an Italian probe of a group of Moroccans suspected of planning a chemical attack.

A hole was found in the tunnel after the Moroccan suspects were arrested last week.

"We take this investigation very seriously, we are cooperating very closely with Italian authorities," U.S. Embassy spokesman Ian Kelly said Tuesday.

The tunnel, running under Via Boncompagni, a street flanking the embassy compound on fashionable Via Veneto, was marked on the suspects' map of Rome's underground utility lines. It contains electricity and telephone lines.

Police raids last week led to the arrest of eight Moroccans in the capital as well as the discovery of 4 kilograms of a cyanide-based compound, potassium ferrocyanide, and firecrackers. Also found was a tourist map with the U.S. Embassy circled and municipal maps indicating the location of utility lines near the embassy, officials said.

Italian news reports have said that investigators believe a chemical attack on the embassy's water system was being plotted.

But the U.S. Embassy officials said Monday there was "no hard evidence" an attack being planned on the embassy's water supply.

The Moroccans have denied any wrongdoing, saying they don't know how the cyanide compound got into the apartment.

 A bomb blast early Tuesday damaged parked cars and shattered windows near the Interior Ministry in downtown Rome. No one was injured.

Investigators believe the bomb was planted on a moped around the corner from the ministry, the headquarters of Italy's national police and security services, the Interior Ministry said.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombing.