Italian police say they have dismantled a network in Sardinia that included men suspected of involvement in one of Pakistan's deadliest attacks, and a possible plot to bomb the Vatican.

Arrest orders were issued on Friday by the authorities on the Mediterranean island for 18 suspects, police said.

They are accused of belonging to "an organisation dedicated to transnational criminal activities inspired by al-Qaeda and other radical organisations pursuing armed struggle against the West and insurrection against the current government of Pakistan".

Further details of the alleged network on Sardinia, a sleepy island that is a holiday playground for celebrities and some of the world's richest people, were due to be released at a news conference by local prosecutors later in the day.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi played down the significance of the alleged bomb plot.

"This concerns a 2010 scenario that didn't materialise. It has no relevance today and there is no reason for particular concern," Lombardi said, according to the AFP news agency.

Some of the men arrested or being sought are suspected of involvement in the October 2009 bombing of the Meena Bazaar in Peshawar which left more than 100 dead and over 200 people injured.

Many of the victims were women and children.

The authorities blamed the Taliban for carrying out the attack in reprisal for actions by government forces.

The Taliban denied being involved.

Source: AFP