ROME - Students called for justice on Tuesday at the scene of adeadly bomb attack in Italy, with nerves still raw as policewidened their search for a man caught on camera as he set off theblast by remote. "Melissa is one of us! Whoever killed her must die!" studentsshouted at a sit-in at the school in the southern city of Brindisi,where Saturday's blast killed 16-year-old Melissa Bassi and gravelyinjured five more girls. Italian police meanwhile were re-examining blurry video footagewhich showed the aggressor setting off the blast but did not showhis full face. "Surveillance cameras positioned on a newspaper kiosk close to theschool clearly show a man, at the moment of the attack, who seemsto be using a remote control," Interior Minister Anna MariaCancellieri said. |
"Investigators believe it is the person who set off the explosionbecause the sequence of images shows a tremor, then a cloud ofsmoke," she said. "Immediately afterwards, the individual headed off behind the kiosktowards an adjacent street and disappeared from the camera's fieldof view," she added. Investigators in Brindisi had earlier released images showing a manwith slicked-back hair and apparently with a lame hand and a limpoutside the school pressing a remote control or mobile phone justbefore the bomb exploded. A local man whose description matched that of the man caught onfilm was widely named in the national media as the aggressor andwas interrogated on Monday by police, but was later released ongrounds of insufficient evidence. As the man and his brother were driven out of the police stationand escorted home, angry locals attacked a police car they thoughthe was in.
"It was a nightmare, I am an honest man. I had nothing to do withthe bomb," the man said in a video interview published by La StampaTuesday. Students told investigators they had seen a man corresponding tothe police identikit lurking around the school a week or so beforethe attack, and had nicknamed him "the maniac," the Corriere dellaSera newspaper said. The blast ripped through a group of students as they waited tobegin classes, killing Bassi and leaving five others with burnwounds.
"Don't give up, Veronica!" supporters chanted outside the school,referring to the most seriously wounded of the students beingtreated in hospital. The bomb was homemade using three gas canisters and "activatedusing an electronic system and hidden in a plastic container whichwas placed near the school in the early hours of May 19 accordingto witnesses," Cancellieri said. She said police were still unclear about the motives for theattack, and were exploring the possibility that the aggressor hadan accomplice who helped him position the gas canisters, whichtogether weigh at least 50 kilos. Investigators were also analysing elements from the scene of thecrime, including cigarette butts and objects from nearby rubbishbins. "Even if we still don't know who did it or why, we can call it anact of terror in the literal sense of the word.
Keeping in mind theseriousness of the attack we can compare it to a terrorist act,"she said. On Monday police in Brindisi handed over the case to anti-mafiainvestigators in the nearby town of Lecce because of thepossibility of terrorist ends in the attack. But Cancellieri stressed that organised crime involvement was,however, only one of the hypotheses being considered. The region around Brindisi is home to the Sacra Corona Unita(United Sacred Crown) mafia, but the group's influence is waningand it has denounced the bombing.
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