News24

Two girls killed in Italy blast

2012-05-19 16:47

Rome - Two 16-year-old girls died on Saturday after a powerful bomb blast outside their school in the southern Italian city of Brindisi, with another seven injured, one critically.

School officials said the blast, which went off as the students were arriving for class at the all-girls Francesca Morvillo Falcone vocational school, knocked several of them to the ground.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast caused by gas canisters hidden in a container or backpacks placed near a wall of the school grounds, according to initial indications.

Italian media noted that the school is named after the wife of the famous anti-Mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, who was killed in a bomb attack along with her and their three bodyguards 20 years ago on Wednesday.

Brindisi Mayor Mimmo Consales, suspecting a connection, told the Ansa news agency there were "too many coincidences in this affair."

"The first people to come to the aid of the injured were a teacher, a monitor and a technician (who) described a powerful explosion that knocked several students to the ground," the school's director Valeria Vitale told the daily La Repubblica.

"The students are in shock, and the head teacher went straight to the hospital."

The injured schoolgirls are suffering from burns of different degrees of severity, media reports said.

Police quickly cordoned off the school and bomb disposal experts rushed to the scene, as well as the president of Brindisi's Apulia region, Nichi Vendola. Education Minister Francesco Profumo was expected later in the day.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said he was following developments "with apprehension" and reached out to the families of the dead student and the wounded.

The blast went off around 07:45. Most Italian students have classes on Saturday morning, and other Brindisi schools sent their students home.

Television footage showed little apparent property damage aside from the blackened wall.

The Sicilian Mafia assassinated Falcone on May 23, 1992, by planting half a tonne of dynamite on the road between Palermo's airport and the city centre.

The Brindisi mayor also noted that a procession was set to pass near Brindisi on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary.
Anti-mafia officials were meeting on Saturday in Brindisi.