Parcel bombs explode at Chilean, Swiss embassies in Rome

Two parcel bombs exploded at the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome Thursday, injuring two people. Italian news reports say an anarchist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.


AFP - Bomb blasts in the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome injured two staffers on Thursday in attacks that officials said may have been carried out by anarchists like the ones behind a similar plot in Greece.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the attacks represented "a serious threat" against foreign embassies, while Chile's ambassador Oscar Godoy Arcaya condemned "an absolutely irrational and brutal act of terrorism."


Police said checks were under way in all the embassies in the Italian capital and the city's mayor said emergency services were on the ready.

"This is a wave of terrorism against the embassies. It's more worrying than a single attack," the mayor, Gianni Alemanno, told reporters.

"International lines of inquiry are being followed," Alemanno said.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said investigators were following a possible anarchist link behind the attacks "following analogous incidents that happened in November in Greece."

"These are very violent groups present also in Spain and Greece with close links between them," Maroni said.

Prosecutors opened an inquiry for an attack with "terrorist" intent.

A group calling itself the Informal Federation of Anarchy (FAI) late Thursday claimed responsibility, the ANSA news agency reported.

"We have decided to make our voice heard with words and deeds. Let us destroy the system of domination. Long live the FAI," a statement found in a little box next to one of the injured said, according to ANSA.

In a suspected anarchist far-left plot in Greece last month, bombs were sent to foreign embassies in Athens and European leaders including Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Over a dozen packages containing explosives were sent in that plot, prompting Greece to suspend international mail for two days. At least four of the packages ignited or exploded, slightly injuring one person.

Anarchists were also believed to be behind a series of parcel bomb attacks nicknamed operation "Santa Klaus" in Italy in December 2003 that was targeted mainly at then European Commission chief Romano Prodi.

Thursday's attack left the Swiss mail worker who opened the package in the embassy building seriously injured. The 53-year-old man is reportedly in hospital and risks losing his hand.

"I condemn such malicious and unforgivable acts in the strongest terms," Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy Rey said in a statement.

A Chilean embassy staffer wounded in a second bomb blast shortly after the Swiss embassy explosion also received injuries to his hands, chest and eyes.

"We can't understand why we were attacked in this way. The package was addressed to the cultural office and was opened by the civil servant who injured himself as he opened it," the Chilean ambassador told reporters.

"His life is not in danger but there was blood everywhere," he said.

The package was sent from an Italian address, ANSA news agency reported.

ANSA also quoted an official from the surgery department at the Umberto I hospital where the two men were being treated that the Chilean man had a bolt extracted from his chest and risked losing his right eye.

"Both had injuries to their thorax, face and other parts of their body. But in both cases the body parts that were most damaged were their hands," the hospital official, Massimo Coletti, was quoted as saying.

Dozens of police, firemen and bomb disposal experts could be seen outside the Swiss and Chilean embassies, both located just north of the city centre.

There was also a false alarm at the Ukrainian embassy shortly after the two blasts over a suspect package that turned out to be a greeting card.

A spokesman for the US embassy declined to comment on any extra precautions and said: "The US embassy always maintains an appropriate level of security.

Location of Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome

Afficher Parcel bombs explode in embassies in Rome sur une carte plus grande

Following the Swiss embassy blast, Frattini said: "We express full solidarity with the Swiss ambassador and all diplomatic staff, targeted by a deplorable act of violence that merits the firmest condemnation.

"We hope the injured embassy employee can make a full recovery," he said.

An incendiary device was found outside the Swiss embassy in October, with a message calling for the release of three anarchists arrested in Switzerland.

Earlier on Thursday there were two false bomb alerts at local government offices in Rome including one in the heart of the Italian capital.

Mayor Alemanno said there was no link between the alerts and the blasts.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning