Parcel bomb attacks rattle Rome

One person seriously injured in explosions at Swiss, Chilean embassies

ON ALERT: Italian Carabinieri and firemen leave the Swiss embassy in Rome on Thursday. A parcel bomb exploded in the embassy, seriously injuring an employee. AFP

Police were conducting checks at all embassies in the capital, the Associated Press reported.

The first attack, a parcel bomb at the Swiss Embassy, exploded at midday. Shortly after, a second parcel bomb exploded at the Chilean Embassy here, wounding an employee. Another suspicious package was reported at the Ukrainian Embassy in Rome.

It was not immediately clear who had sent the packages or why the embassies had been chosen as targets. The Swiss embassy said that no one had claimed responsibility for the bomb there.

The attacks rattled a city already on edge after violent student protests last week and ongoing security alerts across Europe this month.

The Swiss Embassy said in a statement that a package containing a hidden explosive device detonated around noon when an embassy employee opened it, causing injuries to both of his hands.

Those injuries appeared serious, said a spokesman for the Carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police. The employee, a 53-year-old Swiss national, was taken to a local hospital.

Similarly, a package exploded at the Chilean embassies when an employee opened it there, Reuters reported. A spokesman for the police could not immediately be reached for comment. Shortly after, news agencies reported that a suspicious package had been found at the Ukranian Embassy.

After the first explosion, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy quickly condemned what he called a “deplorable act of violence” against the Swiss Embassy and wished the employee a speedy recovery. Counterterrorism officials have opened up an investigation, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.

After the explosion at the Swiss embassy, bomb disposal experts checked the building, located in the leafy Rome neighbourhood of Parioli, but no one was evacuated, Reuters reported. “The ambassador is still on site,” Maurizio Mezzavilla, a police spokesman, told reporters at the scene.

The parcel explosions come two days after Rome police discovered a defective explosive device under a subway seat. That package—containing tubes, wiring and a small amount of explosive powder—“was too rudimentary” to work, the police said.
The attacks appeared similar to those foiled in Athens last month, when crude explosive devices were sent in packages to 12 embassies in Athens. Three bombs exploded, two at the Swiss and Russian Embassies and the third while en route to the Mexican Embassy.

Europe remains in the grip of heightened terror alerts after a botched suicide attack in Sweden by a British resident, terrorism arrests in Britain, Spain and France, and alarms in Germany.

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