World

Rome embassy bombers sought vengeance

A top Italian security official says anarchists who sent mail bombs to the Rome embassies of Chile and Switzerland wanted to avenge actions by those countries against their movement.

Anarchists who sent mail bombs to the Rome embassies of Chile and Switzerland wanted to avenge actions by those countries against their movement, a top Italian security official said Friday.

Bomb experts were sent to other embassies in the Italian capital Friday because embassy employees nervous about opening a flood of holiday mail called police to inspect packages, Rome police Chief Francesco Tagliente said.

Police in Rome confer outside the Swiss Embassy after an envelope exploded Thursday, seriously injuring the employee who opened it. ((Andrew Medichini/Associated Press) )

No new devices have been found.

Manila envelopes about the size of a videocassette case exploded when they were opened Thursday, about two hours apart, seriously wounding one employee at each mission. A Chilean man lost two fingers and risked the loss of vision in one eye while a Swiss Embassy employee had serious hand injuries, doctors said.

The Italian attacks seemed intent on at least seriously wounding whoever opened the envelopes; at least one of the devices contained an iron bolt that shot into the chest of one of the employees.

Italy's anti-terrorism police say the Swiss were targeted because intensified Swiss-Italian co-operation led to the recent arrest of several anarchists, the Interior Ministry undersecretary told state radio.

Meanwhile, "Chile was the theatre of the death of an anarchist who became a kind of myth for that world" of anarchy, Alfredo Mantovano said. He was referring to a Chilean anarchist who was killed when a bomb he was carrying blew up in Santiago in 2009.

Italian media also reported that a claim found at one of the embassies cited the name of Lambros Fountas, a Greek anarchist who was killed in a shootout with police in March.

Anarchists suspected immediately

Thursday's bombs were sent from within Italy, authorities said.

Italian police immediately suspected anarchists-insurrectionists because of their 'serial, repetitive' use of package bombs, an official said. (Max Rossi/Reuters)

Security officials said that an Italian group calling itself the Informal Anarchist Federation claimed responsibility. The group has a Facebook page, with 33 members. The page is mainly blank except for the slogan in Italian "Basta destra e basta sinistra solo ANARCHIA!" ("Enough of the right and enough of the left only ANARCHY!").

The page carried a stark black-and-white letter A over a circle, which carried the slogan in English "There's no government like no government."

The group has claimed several booby-trapped packages or envelopes sent to authorities in Italy in the last decade.

Among their targets was Romano Prodi, a former Italian premier and European Commission chief. Prodi was uninjured by a package that burst into flames when he opened it at his Bologna home during the 2003 Christmas holiday season.

Investigators immediately suspected what they called anarchists-insurrectionists "because only this sphere mainly uses package bombs, in a serial, repetitive way," Mantovano said.

Other Italian targets of anarchists in recent years have been prison officials, police headquarters and city halls.

Mantovano said security was being tightened at "possible targets" including embassies, detention centres for clandestine migrants, prisons and police stations.