Italy school bombing: Two suspects arrested

A remote-controlled bomb blast outside a vocational training school in southern Italy killed a 16-year-old girl.

Updated: May 21, 2013, 11:35 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Brindisi: In a major break through, Italian police have arrested two suspects over a school bombing that killed a 16-year-old girl and seriously injured five more teenagers.

The men were identified from security cameras at the vocational school in the southern city of Brindisi, where the bomb ripped through a group of students.

As per reports, one of the suspects is an ex-soldier with knowledge of electronics, the daily Corriere della Sera reported.

Police have searched the suspects` homes, Corriere reported.

The bombing, which took place around 8 am in the Adriatic port town of Brindisi just as students milled outside, chatting and getting ready for class at the mainly all-girls Francesca Laura Morvillo Falcone vocational institute, left the whole country in shock. At least seven students were injured.

Fabiano Amati, a regional minister, said the scene after the blast was "dramatic".

"There were school back-packs and notebooks everywhere. Many windows of the nearby buildings were broken," he told CNN.

Police found three gas cylinders at the site that were detonated with a remote control.

The devices were concealed behind a trash can, around 50 metres from the school entrance. The Francesca Morvillo Falcone school is named after the wife of prominent anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, who was killed in a bomb attack in 1992.

The student killed by the bomb was Melissa Bassi, 16, an only child from a working-class family who was studying to be a social worker She was known to her friends in Brindisi for her sunny smile, said Franco Scoditti, the mayor of the nearby town of Mesagne. She died of her wounds at a hospital, said Brindisi civil protection agency official Fabiano Amati.

Another young victim was fighting for her life after suffering extensive injuries to her chest, and another was badly wounded in the legs.

Flags were being flown at half mast in Brindisi to pay tribute to Melissa.

Premier Mario Monti, from the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in the United States, said he hopes the wounded quickly recover.

Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola said it could be "either a mafia or a political terrorism attack".

Anti-Mafia prosecutor Cataldo Motta, based in the nearby port of Lecce, told reporters there were no claims of responsibility. He added that the bombing didn`t appear to be the work of organised crime, since fuel and not dynamite, the Mafia`s traditional choice of explosive, was used. Motta said the "international terrorism" angle was unlikely, but stressed that investigators had not ruled out any hypothesis.

Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, in charge of domestic security, said she was "struck" by the fact that the school was named after the slain hero and his wife, but she cautioned that investigators at that point "have no elements" to blame the school attack on organised crime.

"It`s not the usual (method) for the Mafia," she told Sky in a phone interview. The Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra usually targets specific figures, such as judges, prosecutors, turncoats or rival mobsters in attacks, and not civilian targets such as schools.

Saturday`s bombing is an attack of "unprecedented cruelty. The big problem now is to get intelligence" on the bombing, said Cancellieri.

The government recently announced a plan to increase counter-terrorism intelligence, saying 14,000 sites in the country were currently considered potential targets.

Authorities have said the Italian anarchists have worked in close contact with Greece-based anarchists. Brindisi is a major point of departure for ferries between Italy and Greece, but there was no immediate indication from investigators of any Greek link.

(With Agencies’ inputs)