Six Africans murdered near Naples may have been killed by a local mafia clan because of a dispute over drug trafficking, police said on Friday.
Police investigating the murder of six African near Naples said Friday they suspected a local mafia clan might be behind the killings, possibly because of a dispute over drug trafficking.
The bodies of the victims, riddled with bullets, were found at the coastal town of Castelvolturno, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the southern Italian port.
One police officer said it was the worst single attack they had experienced in the region.
At least six gunmen surprised the victims in a textile workshop, firing some 130 bullets at the men, said the Italian news agency ANSA.
Five men died at the scene, a sixth died of his wounds in hospital, while a seventh was still in hospital.
Three of the victims of the shooting, which happened late Thursday were from Ghana, said the police. One was from Togo and another from Liberia. They did not know the nationality of the sixth victim.
The wounded man was either from Ghana or Liberia, said police.
Officers were investigating a possible link with the killing just 20 minutes earlier of a 53-year-old Italian, the owner of a local games hall, who was suspected of having belonged to the mafia.
Police found spent bullet casings at the scene of his murder showing that similar weapons, a 9mm pistol and an AK-47 rifle, had been used in both attacks, said police quoted by ANSA.
"There have never been so many dead in a shooting," a senior police officer told AFP. "It is a record for the region."
Investigators said the shooting might have been linked to a dispute between the local mafia, known as the Casalesi, and immigrants involved in drug trafficking.
The Casalesi clan, which controls drug trafficking and prostitution between Naples and Caserta, is the most powerful wing of the Camorra, or Neapolitan mafia.
"This possibility still has to be confirmed," a senior officer told AFP.
But Giacomo di Gennaro, a specialist in the criminal sociology of Naples, told AFP: "Technically, this shooting carries the hallmark of the Casalesi."
The Camorra often sold drugs on to African immigrants in Castelvolturno, he said. The killings might have been the mafia's riposte to a group of Africans who had tried to branch out on their own, he speculated.
"This is part of the Casalesi's strategy of intimidation. They want to show that, despite the arrests and the collaboration of turncoats with the courts, they control the territory," he added.
About 200 African immigrants staged an angry protest in the main street of Castelvolturno Friday, an AFP photographer reported.
Shouting "Italian bastards", they overturned cars and broke windows.
"We want justice," said one of them. "It's not true that our friends were selling drugs."
ANSA news agency said the immigrants might have failed to pay off the local mafia.
"It is clear that the hand of the Camorra is behind these massacres," the mayor of Castelvolturno, Francesco Nuzzo, said.
"Here, the mafia sets the law and acts in total tranquility," he added. "It's the State that struggles to enforce the rule of law."
The archbishop of Naples, Crescenzio Sepe, also condemned the killings.
In June, an Italian appeals court in Naples confirmed 16 life sentences against bosses of the Casalesi clan, following one of the biggest trials in the country's history.
During the course of the trial five people connected with it, including an interpreter, were murdered.
Date created : 2008-09-20