Italian police hunt school bombing suspect

2012-05-21 16:01
Massimo Bassi, the father of Melissa, the 16-year-old student killed by the bomb blast outside a high school, attends a mass in Mesagne, near Brindisi, Italy. (Antonio Calanni, AP)

Massimo Bassi, the father of Melissa, the 16-year-old student killed by the bomb blast outside a high school, attends a mass in Mesagne, near Brindisi, Italy. (Antonio Calanni, AP)

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Brindisi - Italian authorities searched on Monday for a suspect caught on surveillance cameras as he detonated a bomb at a school, killing a 16-year-old girl and injuring five other teenagers.

Investigators in the southern city of Brindisi released a series of images showing a man with slicked back hair standing outside the school on Saturday morning.

In the video, he can be seen looking at students as they get off a bus, then pressing some sort of remote control or mobile phone to detonate the bomb, journalists who saw the footage reported.

Saturday's blast outside a vocational high school ripped through a group of students as they waited to begin classes. The bomb, which was made from three gas canisters, killed Melissa Bassi, aged 16, and seriously wounded five other students who suffered burns and other wounds.

Italian media reported on Sunday that two men had been questioned on Saturday in connection with the attack, though they were later released.

This stretch of the country is home to the Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown) local mafia, but the group's influence is waning and it has denounced the bombing.

Isolated incident

"Never target the kids," Sacra Corona former treasurer Tonino Screti said. The group "never does that because it knows if it did, the state would destroy it".

"Don Tonino", who is close to some of the local mob's top brass, said even the most vicious mafias "don't plant bombs to kill innocent people".

On Sunday, Brindisi prosecutor Marco Dinapoli said the bombing appeared to be an isolated act by someone "at war with the world", though he did not rule anything out.

Students at the Morvillo-Falcone school, whose speciality is fashion design, returned to classes on Monday.

Classmates placed a teddy bear on Bassi's empty seat, along with flowers and a card saying: "Ciao Melissa, you will always be in our memories. Goodbye little angel who smiles in heaven."

Of the five others who were injured, the most seriously hurt, named Veronica, was initially expected to die. But she appeared to be making progress after surgeons operated on her chest.

Paedophile's revenge

Her first words upon waking up from the two-hour operation were: "Hi daddy, give me a kiss."

Psychological counsellors were on hand to talk to students.

"The children were crying, but they found the strength to come back," said head teacher Angelo Rampino.

Bassi's funeral was planned for later Monday in her home village of Mesagne.

Prime Minister Mario Monti cut short his attendance at a Nato summit in Chicago to return home because of the bombing, as well as an earthquake that killed six people and made 3 000 homeless in northern Italy on Sunday.

The newspaper Sole 24 Ore speculated on Monday that the bomber was a paedophile taking revenge after being rebuffed by one of his victims.

Read more on:    italy  |  security

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