Targeting Children Police Hunt for Italian "Unabomber"

A mysterious bomber apparenlty targeting children has injured more than 20 people in Italy since 1994 with boobytraps hidden in innocent items like an Easter egg. He struck again at the weekend with a bomb in a bottle. Authorities believe they are hunting a "Unabomber" type person, both intelligent and reclusive.

Italy's "Unabomber" has planted around 30 devilishly concealed bombs in beach umbrellas, cigarette lighters, eggs and tubes of tomato concentrate over the past 12 years, injuring more than 20 people, including three children, yet detectives appear to be nowhere near capturing him.

All they know is that he's likely to be similar in character to America's notorious "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski, a mathematics professor who was jailed for life in 1998 after a mail-bomb campaign that killed three people and injured 29 -- intelligent, reclusive, middle-class and male.

Kacynski's Italian counterpart is believed to have struck again at the weekend with an explosive device in a message in a bottle left wedged between some rocks. Massimiliano Bozzo, a 28-year-old male nurse walking along the seafront of Porto Santa Margherita, near Venice, on Saturday, picked it up, pulled out the cork and triggered an explosion that blew off his thumb and badly damaged two other fingers.

He was also wounded in the chest and neck, while his 24-year-old girlfriend suffered damage to her eardrums and was cut by flying glass. Police are almost certain it was the work of their suspect, described by police as "someone with a grudge against humanity in general and children in particular."

His intention to harm children has been evident in some of the booby traps planted in Easter eggs, felt-tipped pens, bottles of blowing bubbles and jars of chocolate spread. In April 2003, he was blamed for a pen which exploded in the hands of a nine-year-old girl who was out on a picnic with her family. The girl lost sight in one eye and three fingers of one hand. In March 2005 a six-year-old girl was hurt when an electric votive candle exploded in a church.

Vittorio Borraccetti, the chief prosecutor in Venice, said on Monday his team will eventually catch the serial bomber: "We haven't given up. We're determined to get him. But we must be patient."

A profile drawn up by a police task force suggests that the attacker is a loner aged 30 to 50, who perhaps has an engineering or military background. Over 150 suspects have been questioned, but there have been no arrests. Every incident has happened in northeastern Italy around Venice, Treviso and Pordenone.

“We are playing a chess game with this maniac,” said Borraccetti.


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