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Bomb blasts in Swiss, Chilean embassies in Rome

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:53 EDT
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ROME (AFP) – Parcel bomb blasts in the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome injured two staffers on Thursday, officials said, as Italian prosecutors opened an inquiry for a suspected “attack with terrorist aims.”

Checks are currently under way in all the embassies in Rome after the blasts and the city’s mayor said emergency services were on alert.

“This is a wave of terrorism against the embassies. It’s more worrying than a single attack,” Gianni Alemanno told reporters.

“International lines of inquiry are being followed,” Alemanno said, without giving further details.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper quoted investigators as saying that one of the main lines of inquiry was on “anarchist circles of the eco-terrorist movement.”

Another possibility mentioned by investigators is that the Swiss embassy attack “was organised by insurgent anarchist groups,” the newspaper reported.

The Swiss mail worker who opened the first package was seriously wounded, while the Chilean embassy staffer is not reported to be badly injured.

“A device hidden inside a package exploded in the embassy.. at midday (1100 GMT),” the Swiss embassy said in a statement.

“The postal worker’s hands were injured and he was immediately taken to hospital,” it added.

The embassy said there had been no claim of responsibility.

Reports said the injured man was a 53-year-old Swiss national and he risks the amputation of one or both his hands but his life is not in danger.

Police, firemen and bomb disposal experts could be seen on the Swiss embassy grounds, located north of Rome’s city centre.

Emergency services were also at the Chilean embassy near Villa Borghese.

The ANSA news agency reported that a third unexploded bomb was later found at the Ukrainian embassy, but a police spokesman told AFP it was a false alarm.

“We express full solidarity with the Swiss ambassador and all diplomatic staff, targeted by a deplorable act of violence that merits the firmest condemnation,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in a statement.

“We hope the injured embassy employee can make a full recovery,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday there were two false bomb alerts at local government offices in Rome including one in the heart of the Italian capital.

Mayor Alemanno said there was no link between the alerts and the blasts.

A fake bomb — with wires, an antenna and metal pipes stuffed with powder — was also found on an empty train carriage in Rome’s metro system on Tuesday in what police said may have been a threat ahead of protests in the city.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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