Sun, Dec 11, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Italian anarchist group claims Rome letter bomb blast

AFP, ROME

Italian anarchists claimed responsibility for a letter bomb blast on Friday that nearly blinded the director of Italy’s tax collection agency, following a foiled attack on the head of Deutsche Bank.

The package included a note signed by FAI — Federazione Anarchica Informale (“Informal Federation of Anarchy”) — the anarchists behind the letter bomb sent to the German bank chief executive, Josef Ackermann, on Wednesday.

Investigators were searching for a third bomb after German state police said the group had referred to “three explosions against banks, bankers, ticks and bloodsuckers” in a note hidden in the Deutsche package.

Italian police urged “caution in opening correspondence from unknown people or organizations.”

Equitalia Director-General Marco Cuccagna was hospitalized after he detonated the device when he opened a letter at the agency’s headquarters in Rome.

“Cuccagna has undergone an operation. He was injured to the hand and face after the explosion blew up his glass desk,” Angelo Coco from Equitalia said.

Doctors managed to save Cuccagna’s sight after removing shards of glass from both eyes and operated on three of his fingers, hospital doctors said.

Prosecutors launched an inquiry and there were media reports that both Friday’s bomb and the letter sent to Deutsche Bank had been mailed from Milan, Italy.

Equitalia, which has been accused of making mistakes with regular taxpayers, is widely unpopular in a country where tax evasion is rampant.

Equitalia Chairman Attilio Befera said: “We are all in shock, but we will continue to work even more for the good of Italy and in favor of those who pay their taxes.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti issued a statement expressing “solidarity” and defending the activities of Equitalia at a time his government is proposing a series of painful tax increases and pension reforms.

“Equitalia has always carried out and is continuing to carry out its duty in full respect of the law,” Monti said. “It is essential for the functioning of the state, without which it would be impossible to provide services to citizens.”

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno accused the perpetrators of hoping to “exploit in a terroristic way the sacrifices Italy has to make to get out of the crisis.”

Pier Ferdinando Casini, head of Italy’s Union of the Center (UDC) party, said that “the risk of terrorism in a country such as ours should never be underestimated.”

The recently formed Movimento per il popolo (“Movement for the People”) against Equitalia released a statement on its Web site earlier on Friday denying responsibility for the attack and denouncing violence.

However, several anti-Equitalia groups on the Internet praised the attack, with a posting on the “Stop Equitalia” Web page saying it was a shame the letter bomb did not injure Cuccagna further, according to ANSA news agency.

The FAI has been behind a string of attacks on European institutions, including an attempted letter bombing against then--European Commission president Romano Prodi in 2003.

In April, the FAI said it was behind a letter bomb that injured two people when it exploded at the offices of the Swiss nuclear energy association.

On the same day, an Italian military officer was wounded in an army barracks by a letter bomb apparently sent by the same group.

The FAI has also claimed responsibility for a letter bomb sent to a Greek top security prison where a number of far-left extremists are incarcerated.

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