- - Sunday, May 20, 2012

Italian police arrested two suspects in the bombing of a vocational school that killed a 16-year-old girl and seriously injured five other teenagers, media reports said Sunday.

The men were identified from security cameras at the mainly all-girl school in the southern city of Brindisi, where the bomb ripped through a group of students as they waited to begin classes early Saturday.

One of the suspects is an ex-soldier with knowledge of electronics, the daily Corriere della Sera reported, citing local news website Brindisireport.

The bombing has revived dark memories of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when terrorists, anarchists and organized crime carried out dozens of bloody attacks across the country.

Melissa Bassi, 16, died from her injuries in hospital, an only child from a working-class family who was studying to be a social worker.

Another young victim was fighting for her life after suffering extensive injuries to her chest, and another was badly wounded in the legs.

Italy’s flags flew at half-staff, and the Adriatic port city held the first of two days of mourning as Pope Benedict XVI condemned the bombing as “despicable” and said he is praying for Melissa.

Public prosecutor Marco Di Napoli said there was clearly “a wish to carry out a massacre,” while playing down speculation that terrorist, foreign or Mafia figures could be behind the attack.

“We are far from knowing the truth only 24 hours after” the attack, which has not been claimed, he said at a news conference.

“All possibilities remain open,” Mr. Di Napoli said. “The most likely hypothesis is that of an individual and isolated act. It’s not impossible that it was the work of a single person.”

The mainly all-girls Francesca Laura Morvillo Falcone vocational institute is named after a judge who was killed alongside her prosecutor husband, anti-Mafia hero Giovanni Falcone, in a highway bombing in Sicily exactly 20 years ago, leading some to think the mob may be responsible.

Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, in charge of domestic security, said she was “struck” by the fact that the school was named after the judge, but she cautioned that investigators at that point had “no elements” to blame the school attack on organized crime.

The bombing follows a spate of recent attacks against Italian officials and government or public buildings by a group of anarchists, including the shooting and wounding of an official from a nuclear engineering firm, which is part of a state-controlled company.

An anti-nuclear anarchist group that previously had targeted Italy’s tax collection agency claimed responsibility for the shooting.

The attacks and threats lodged against authorities prompted the government on Friday to assign bodyguards to 550 individuals, and deploy 16,000 law enforcement officers nationwide.

“But you can’t militarize the country,” the interior minister said.

Italy coped with a severe terrorism outbreak in the 1970s and 1980s - known as the “years of lead.” In the worst attack, blamed on right-wing terrorists, 85 people were killed in a bomb blast at the Bologna train station in 1980. A Mafia terror campaign targeted churches and public buildings in Rome and Milan.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide