ROME - Mail bombs exploded in the hands of employees at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome yesterday, seriously wounding two people and triggering heightened security checks at diplomatic missions just as holiday deliveries deluge their mailrooms.
Italian investigators suspected the attacks were the work of anarchists, similar to the two-day wave of mail bombs that targeted several embassies in Athens last month - including those of Chile and Switzerland. One of last month's booby-trapped packages, addressed to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, was intercepted in Italy.
Late last night, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that a claim by anarchists was found in a small box near one of the wounded employees, and was being examined by anti-terrorism police squad.
Anti-terrorism police at Rome police headquarters refused to comment on the claim, which ANSA said was made by a group called the Informal Anarchist Federation, or FAI.
"Long live FAI, long live anarchy," the claim reportedly said.
Anarchists were blamed by authorities last week for bloody clashes between protesters and police in Rome that marred otherwise peaceful demonstrations by students against a university reform law that received final approval in parliament yesterday.
For the twin embassy mail bombs, less than three hours apart, Italian investigators are pursuing the "trail of anarchists-insurrectionists," Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, whose ministry includes anti-terrorist police, told reporters.
"Various elements lead us to think that this is the correct path . . . These are very violent groups that are also present in Spain and Greece and are very well connected," the minister said.
In Athens, Greek law enforcement officials said that Greek anti-terror police were contacted in the evening by Italian colleagues but that no link with the Greek parcel bombs was immediately apparent.
Rome's police chief, Francesco Tagliente, rushing to the Chilean diplomatic mission, said all embassies in the city were being alerted.
There have been growing concerns in Europe about holiday season attacks following a bombing in Sweden and security services' fears of an assault on a European city modeled on the shooting spree in Mumbai, India.