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Rome explosions at embassies linked to Italian anarchists

Rome explosions at the Swiss and Chilean embassies today bear the hallmarks of Italian anarchists, who could be trying to take advantage of the country's fragile political situation, say experts.

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Riots erupted in Rome on Dec. 14, minutes after Mr. Berlusconi barely survived a no-confidence motion in parliament. Back then, a group of students tried unsuccessfully to break into the Senate building. Experts say there may be a connection between the recent wave of terrorist attacks and the protests.

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“Anarchist groups are probably trying to exploit the climate of social unrest to their agenda," says Giampiero Giacomello, professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Bologna. “There's a lot of tension now in the streets, with the students and the labor unions very much upset at the government, while the ruling coalition is in a relatively weak position."

“What the anarchist groups are now trying to re-create is the old alliance between parts of the student movement that used to exist during the 'Years of Lead,' ” points out Mr. Giacomello. However, he says, it is “quite unlikely” the students will actually answer the call.

One big question, however, is why the Swiss and the Chilean embassies were targets. A anarchist website claimed the choice came as an act of solidarity for the “many comrades held in prison” in those countries.

But Giacomello has another explanation: He says the attack against the Swiss Embassy may be a response to the recent Swiss ban on minarets.

“It seems like a move to show solidarity to the Muslim population, or perhaps to seek an alliance with Muslim extremists," he says. “This would be an unprecedented event in Italy's history."

Italy has a long history of domestic terrorism carried out by fascist, communist, and anarchist groups. It was shocked by a wave of attacks in the 1970s and early 1980s (the so-called 'Years of Lead').

“International terrorism is the last of Italy's concerns. The attacks at the embassies and at the subway show the typical modus operandi of local anarchist groups,” says Giacomello. “If they were the [communist] Red Brigades, by now they would have claimed responsibility, as they love media attention. On the other hand, fascist cells tend to strike with the intent to kill as many people as possible, and this is obviously not the case."

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