Last updated: December 23, 2010 11:10 pm

Parcel bombs in Rome injure embassy staff

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Two embassy workers handling Christmas mail were wounded in separate explosions caused by parcel bombs sent to the Swiss and Chilean missions in Rome on Thursday.

No claims of responsibility were made, but Roberto Maroni, Italy’s interior minister, said it was possible that militant anarchists were to blame, noting similarities with more than a dozen parcel bombs sent from Athens last month and addressed to embassies and foreign leaders, including Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi.

Gianni Alemanno, Rome’s right-wing mayor, spoke of a “wave of terrorism” directed at foreign embassies from outside Italy.

Italian authorities warned foreign embassies in the capital and Italian missions abroad to step up their security.

The first bomb – described by authorities as a package the size of a video-cassette and wrapped in a yellow bag – exploded in the Swiss embassy at noon. The Swiss employee opening it in the mailroom suffered serious injuries to his left hand and was rushed to hospital.

The second package exploded mid-afternoon in the Chilean mission, inflicting hand and eye injuries to an embassy worker who was hospitalised.

Europe is on heightened alert over the Christmas period. Security fears were raised after a suspected radical Muslim suicide bomber killed himself in Stockholm on December 11, possibly on his way to attack a crowded train station or department store.

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