Letter Bomb Attacks Hit Embassies in Rome
ROME — A parcel bomb exploded at the Swiss Embassy midday in Rome on Thursday, seriously injuring a diplomatic employee. Shortly after, a second parcel bomb exploded at the Chilean embassy here, wounding an employee, Reuters reported.
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 was taken to a local hospital.
At the Chilean Embassy, similarly, a package exploded when an employee opened it, the ANSA news agency reported. A spokesman for the police could not immediately be reached for comment.
Before the second 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.
Italian news media said the Swiss employee was a 53-year-old Swiss man. Counterterrorism officials have opened up an investigation into the explosion, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported.
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.
After the explosion at the Swiss embassy, bomb disposal experts checked the building, located in the leafy Rome neighborhood 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.
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.
In October, the State Department cautioned American citizens about traveling to Europe, warning of a possible attack.