Monti embraces dad of girl slain by school bomb

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ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Mario Monti on Monday embraced the grieving father of a 16-year-old girl who was killed by a bomb blast outside her school in southern Italy.

Monti left the NATO summit in Chicago a day early to attend the funeral of Melissa Bassi near Brindisi. A bomb exploded just as Bassi and other students were arriving for class Saturday at a vocational high school in the Adriatic port city.

Bassi's father clutched a photograph of his daughter to his chest and appeared inconsolable as Monti embraced him. The victim's mother, still in shock from her loss, didn't attend the church ceremony. Four other girls are hospitalized for severe burns and other wounds.

The school was named after a judge, Francesca Morvillo Falcone, who died with her husband, anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, in a 1992 highway bombing in Sicily by Cosa Nostra. Brindisi and other cities over the weekend were commemorating the 20th anniversary of the killing of the Falcones, leading to one possible hypothesis that organized crime carried out the school blast.

The blast — caused by the explosion of canisters of fuel apparently left in or near a trash bin by a school gate — revived dark memories for many Italians of the 1970s and 1980s, when terrorists, anarchists and organized crime outfits carried out dozens of bloody attacks across the country.

Italy's justice minister, Paola Severino, said no motive has been ruled out in the probe of the blast, which is in the hands of a team of prosecutors specializing in organized crime and terrorism cases. Brindisi police said no one has been detained in the case.

The bombing follows a spate of attacks against Italian officials and government or public buildings by anarchists, including the shooting and wounding of an official from a nuclear engineering firm, which is part of a state-controlled company. An anti-nuclear anarchist group that previously had targeted Italy's tax collection agency claimed responsibility for the shooting.

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