Police maintain security at the scene where gunshots were fired in Rome, Italy, April 28, 2013. Two policemen and a passer-by were shot and injured on Sunday outside the government building, which is close to the presidential palace where Prime Minister Enrico Letta was being sworn in with his newly selected cabinet. (Xinhua/Xu Nizhi)
ROME, (Xinhua): Two police and a passer-by were shot and injured in Rome on Sunday during the swearing ceremony of Italy’s newly appointed government.
According to media reports, an “insane man dressed in a suit” fired several shots ahead of the government office’s building, which is close to the presidential palace where Prime Minister Enrico Letta was being sworn in with his newly selected cabinet ministers.
The two police were rushed to a nearby hospital. One of them was reportedly in serious conditions but both of them were not in peril of life, medical sources said. A passer-by pregnant woman was also slightly injured.
A man was arrested at the scene of the shooting and identified as Luigi Preite, a middle aged Italian from the southern Calabria region who was reportedly affected by mental disturbance.
“He was shooting police as if they were skittles .. at first we did not realize anything, we thought they were firecrackers,” an eye witness was quoted as saying by local media.
The shooting scene and the surrounding area where the government was being sworn in at the presidential palace, which is less than one kilometer from the government office’s building and was filled with crowds of people hailing the ceremony, were immediately cleared away.
It was still unclear whether the attack was linked to the starting of the new government. “It was a disquieting fact but I do not think there was a plan behind it,” newly appointed Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said.
Letta, 46, the moderate head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), brought forward his new government’s first council of ministers to lunch time on Sunday following the shooting.