Italian police arrest suspect in school bombing

Italian police on Wednesday arrested the alleged perpetrator of a May 19 school bombing in the southern city of Brindisi that killed a teenage girl and shocked the nation, Italian media said.

ANSA news agency identified the man as 68-year-old Giovanni Vantaggiato -- believed to be a petrol station owner from the village of Copertino near the southern city of Lecce.

Newspaper Repubblica reported on its website that the motive was believed to be "revenge of a private nature" against the vocational high school where the bomb ripped through a group of students as they waited to begin classes.

The report said surveillance cameras repeatedly captured the man in his car, a Fiat Punto, and a vehicle belonging to one of his relatives.

After five hours of questioning the suspect reportedly confessed but was still being interrogated early Thursday by prosecutors in Lecce.

The head teacher at the Morvillo-Falcone school, Angelo Rampino, told journalists he believed it "impossible that someone would think of doing something like that to hurt me in some way".

Rampino said he had "no enemies, and definitely not a petrol pump attendant".

The blast, caused by a bomb made from three gas canisters, killed 16-year-old Melissa Bassi and wounded five other students, who suffered burns and other injuries.

The investigation initially focused on a man who lived near the school but police eventually cleared him after interrogating both him and his brother.

Agi news agency said the man had sought revenge against the justice system after failing to obtain damages in a trial for swindling. He had tried to hit the Brindisi courtroom but seeing that it was too heavily guarded he turned to the nearby Morvillo-Falcone school.

The bombing deeply shocked Italy, recalling the terrorist attacks of the 1970s and raising fears of a mafia attack as the school is named after famed anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone and his wife Francesca Morvillo, both killed in a 1992 attack.

But national police chief Antonio Manganelli said Wednesday that the attack had "nothing to do with the mafia, nor with anarchists".

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