Letter bomb explodes at Italy tax office

December 9, 2011 - 10:00 AM

ROME (AP) — A letter bomb exploded Friday at an office of Italy's tax collection agency, slightly wounding the organization's director. Police were probing possible links to an Italian anarchist group that claimed credit for a similar, thwarted attack against the chief executive of Deutsche Bank and warned of two other bombs.

A Rome police official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said the bomb was in a yellow bubble envelope mailed to the director's attention at an Equitalia office on the outskirts of Rome.

The director, identified by the government as Marco Cuccagna, suffered a light hand injury. His eyes were not injured, contrary to an earlier report. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, Police Chief Francesco Tagliente told The Associated Press.

"We are working to try to understand the dynamic of what happened," Tagliente said at the scene. "The director opened an envelope that exploded, and he was injured on his hand."

Premier Mario Monti, who is pushing a package of tax hikes and spending cuts to help Italy exit from financial crisis, issued a statement expressing solidarity with Cuccagna.

"Equitalia has always done, and continues to do, its duty, in full compliance with the law. It performs an essential role for the functioning of the state, without which it would be possible to provide services to citizens and their families," said Monti, who is in Brussels for a European Union summit.

On Wednesday, in Frankfurt, a routine mailroom screening found a bomb contained in a small package, was addressed to Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann. The explosive was deactivated without incident.

Tucked alongside that bomb was a letter of responsibility from an Italian anarchist group calling itself "The Informal Anarchist Federation."

The letter, written in Italian also promised "three explosions against banks, bankers, ticks and bloodsuckers," according to the Hesse state Criminal Office. Authorities said Thursday that they were they worried two bombs remained undetected.

The anarchist group has claimed to be behind other mail bombings in the past, including several in Italy.

The Rome official said law enforcement had been placed on alert Thursday in case there are more attempted bombings, but that there was no immediate evidence linking the Friday attack in Italy to the one in Germany.

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Barry reported from Milan. Gianfranco Starra contributed to this report.