The southern Italian town of Brindisi is in shock after a bomb in a rubbish bin outside a school killed a 16 year-old girl, and injured 10 others, several seriously.
The school is named after Judge Giovanni Falcone and his wife. The 20th anniversary of their assassination by the Mafia is in a few days time. A commemorative anti-Mafia march had been due to be held in Brindisi later in the day. It was cancelled, and organisers instead joined a big civic protest against the outrage.
Friends of the victims were at a loss:
“My friend stood up immediately to ask for help, but she had close to nothing, only burns, nothing serious. Her hair was black, everything was black and we couldn’t understand a thing and she was saying ‘Melissa Melissa’ because they were best friends and went everywhere together,” said one girl.
“I saw the other girl stand up and shout the name of her friend … ‘Melissa, Melissa’ because clearly she had realized that she would not make it,” said the class teacher.
The local authorities have been quick to deny Mafia involvement even though suspicion immediately fell on the criminal organisation and the police have opened an investigation.
“Maybe if we start considering a terror attack we are on the right track, and we cannot exclude the action of a madman. But what we think we can exclude is the role of organised crime which does not hit this way, at least up to today,” said the Mayor of Brindisi Mimmo Consales.
Many of the stunned family of the victims and members of this community gathered at the hospital tonight think they know better.
One local source suggested one reason the Mafia might be involved was that the bomb was at a bus stop and timed to explode on the arrival of the bus from the nearby village of Masagne, where 10 days ago 16 alleged Mafiosi were rounded up. Two of the injured are daughters of an anti-mafia businessman.
However the unusual use of gas bottles and crude timers to make the bomb, rather than the Mafia’s usual preference for high explosives and remote detonators, and the organisation’s normal reluctance to act in any way to alienate the local population, have cast a doubt on their involvement.