Italy in shock after school bomb blast kills teenager

Italy was in shock on Saturday after an unexplained bombing at a school killed a 16-year-old girl and left five other teens gravely injured, sparking emotional protests across the country.

There were scenes of chaos and carnage when the powerful blast went off at 7:45 am (0545 GMT) near the entrance to the building as students were arriving for classes at the vocational high school in the southern city of Brindisi.

"There was huge black smoke, debris all over the place, piercing screams," Corradino De Paolis, a passer-by who rushed to the scene, told AFP.

Debris including charred notebooks at the site of the blast was spread over a wide area as investigators combed the area in search of evidence.

Victim Melissa Bassi's friend, Veronica Capodieci, also 16, was in a "very serious condition" with injuries to her chest, hospital doctors said.

The four other victims being treated were all suffering from extensive burns and five more had been discharged from hospital with lighter injuries.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast and Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said investigators were looking into "numerous hypotheses."

The explosive was composed of three gas canisters with a timer device hidden in a container next to a wall just outside the school, which teaches social work, tourism and fashion and is named in honour of a victim of the mafia.

The region where the attack took place is a hub of the Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown), a local mafia that has been under pressure from investigators in recent years and whose influence is seen as being on the wane.

The group, which is heavily involved in drug and arms smuggling through the Balkans as well as human trafficking, is believed to be behind a separate bomb attack in the region earlier this month against an anti-mafia campaigner.

Observers pointed to the fact that school is named after Francesca Morvillo, the wife of famous anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, who was assassinated with her husband and three bodyguards by a mafia bomb 20 years ago on Wednesday.

But officials cautioned that it was unlikely the Sacra Corona Unita would target civilians in its own territory and said the device used was not sophisticated enough for an organisation that has easy access to explosives.

"Local mafia organisations want social consensus. This act would go against their interests because it would alienate any sympathy," said local chief prosecutor Cataldo Motta, adding: "Too many coincidences could be just that."

Thousands of young people led protests in several cities and many said they believed the attack could be linked to the mafia or political militancy at a time in which Italy is struggling through a painful economic crisis.

"Cowards!" read a banner held up at a protest in the heart of Rome.

"Every time someone tries to change something in Italy, there's always something dramatic, an attack to terrorise people," said one man in the crowd, Enrico Fontana from the anti-mafia group Libera.

Along with several other participants, he likened the school bombing to a wave of attacks carried out by far-right and far-left militants in the 1970s and 1980s in a period known as the "Years of Lead".

Thousands also took to the streets of Brindisi to voice their anger.

"We have to react!" one student told the crowd in Victory Square.

"Crime in Brindisi is nothing new but it's been hushed up. We can't take it any more!" the student shouted to cheers from the crowd. "We don't need a massacre to realise there's a problem. We are strong, we must not be afraid!"

Speaking on the sidelines of a G8 summit at Camp David in the United States preoccupied with the economic crisis, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti condemned the bombing as a "tragic", "criminal" and "unprecedented".

He ordered flags to be flown at half-mast for three days across Italy.

Monti called for "maximum cohesion of all political and social forces to prevent the return to our country of subversive temptations."

French President Francois Hollande, who was also at the summit, expressed his country's "deep solidarity" with Italy in the face of this "odious attack".

The Vatican called it a "an absolutely horrific and vile act."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’
    ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’

    The Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong believes that the “racist” statement of legislator Regina Ip against Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong is not reflective of the general sentiments of the Hong Kong community. Hong Kong is home to more than 173,00 Filipinos working mostly as household service workers. “They have left their loved ones back home to earn a decent living taking care of Hong Kong families. This, in turn, has engendered positive impact on both the quality of life …

  • SWS: Gov’t rating sinks to record low
    SWS: Gov’t rating sinks to record low

    “The Aquino administration is firmly determined to carry on and complete priority programs in all five pillars of the Philippine development plan, to ensure that reforms will be sustained by strengthened public institutions, to tread the righteous path and ensure that good governance becomes the norm at all levels of government, and to sustain and make permanent the gains from the transformation of mindsets and institutions,” Coloma added. Lawmakers expressed belief yesterday that the Aquino …

  • ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation
    ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation

    Manny Pacquiao’s face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses, and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero’s “fight of the century” nears. Pacmania is sweeping the nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. …

  • House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP
    House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP

    The House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will put police forces in the envisioned new autonomous Muslim region under the Philippine National Police (PNP), and not under the regional chief minister. “We will delete the provision in the draft BBL giving the chief minister operational, administrative and disciplinary control over police forces in the region,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, said in a television interview. He said under …

  • Phl to seek more US military aid
    Phl to seek more US military aid

    The Philippines said yesterday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defenses, as it faces Chinese “aggressiveness” in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said he was drafting a “wish list” for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for “equipment and training” when …

  • Senate bill seeks planting of trees in parks, schools
    Senate bill seeks planting of trees in parks, schools

    A bill in the Senate is seeking to require the planting of trees in parks, school grounds, vacant lots and other urban areas nationwide. Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said Bill No. 2566, the Greening Act of 2015, supports and complements the government’s National Greening Program to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land from 2011 to 2016. “The Philippines was once known for its vast and lush forests,”he said. The Philippines was also named one of the world’s 10 most threatened …

  • ‘No need to convene NSC over sea tension’
    ‘No need to convene NSC over sea tension’

    There is no need to convene the National Security Council at the moment, despite China’s continued provocative activities in the West Philippine Sea. “At this time, the President does not see any need really to convene the NSC,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte yesterday told a news briefing, carried live by state-run PTV-4 and radio station dzRB. …

  • Fisherman narrates Chinese harassment at sea
    Fisherman narrates Chinese harassment at sea

    Fishing is the only livelihood available for Efren Montehermoso Jr. But after a huge Chinese ship drove away his small fishing boat near the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, he promised never to return to the area for fear of his life. Montehermoso of Barangay Cato in Infanta town was among the group of 80 Filipino fishermen driven away by Chinese coast guard on April 9. Montehermoso said they went to the disputed area not to fish but just to seek temporary …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options