29 Apr 2013

Gunman shoots police outside Italian PM's office

3:05 pm on 29 April 2013

A gunman who shot two police officers and a passerby outside the Italian prime minister's office in Rome has told investigators he was angry with politicians.

The 49 year-old gunman, from the poor southern region of Calabria, told investigators he had planned to attack politicians but had found none within range.

One of the officers was shot in the neck, hitting his spinal cord, and he was in a serious condition, surgeons said. The other was shot in the leg.

Having fired several shots at the police on duty outside the prime minister's office, the man, dressed in a suit, shouted "shoot me, shoot me" to other officers nearby, police said.

The shooting took place as the new government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta was being sworn in at the nearby presidential palace.

Mr Letta, on the right of his centre-left Democratic Party (PD), ended two months of stalemate that followed an inconclusive general election by uniting political rivals in a broad coalition government.

The newly installed prime minister will set out his programme in parliament on Monday, and has said his first task will be to tackle the economy which has contracted for six consecutive quarters and pushed youth unemployment close to 40%.

Official data this month showed that alongside Italy's 2.7 million officially unemployed in 2012, there were 3 million more who had given up the search for work, a far higher number than in any other EU country.

The gunman's home town of Rosarno has a jobless rate far above the national average and is renowned for the activities of the local mafia, the 'Ndrangheta, and riots by African immigrants paid a pittance to collect the local fruit harvest.