Italy is preparing state funerals for its six soldiers who were killed in the country’s biggest single loss of life in Afghanistan. Crowds of mourners from all over the country gathered at the hospital chapel of rest in Rome where the coffins had been taken.Public buildings and schools throughout Italy will hold a minute’s silence for the six who died in a suicide bombing in the centre of Kabul on Thursday. One man said: “To me they were like six brothers. I was a soldier too, and I still feel part of this family that gave me strong values. A woman added: “My son also used to take part on missions. When you see this, you think it could happen to me.” The bodies had been flown to Rome earlier, to be met by their families and Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano. There are 3,000 Italian troops in Afghanistan mainly in Kabul and in the west of the country. These latest deaths have ignited calls at home for them to withdrawn, but the foreign minister has said they must stay despite the high price Italy is paying.