Two wounded in shooting as new Italy government sworn in

Two wounded in shooting as new Italy government sworn in

ROME - Agence France-Presse
Two wounded in shooting as new Italy government sworn in

A wounded Carabinieri paramilitary police officer lies on the ground in the background after being shot outside the Chigi Premier's office, in Rome, Sunday, April 28, 2013. Two paramilitary police officers were shot and wounded Sunday in a crowded square outside the Italian premier's office as the new leader Enrico Letta was sworn in about a kilometer away. It was unclear if there was any connection between the events. AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Italy's new coalition government was sworn in on April 28, but a ceremony symbolising a fresh start for a country mired in recession and dogged by political feuds was overshadowed by a shooting outside government headquarters.

As Prime Minister Enrico Letta and his 21 ministers took the oath of office in the presidential palace, an unemployed man about a kilometre away opened fire on policemen guarding the headquarters, wounding two of them and sparking fear among tourists.

Interior Minister Angelo Alfano said the "tragic and criminal act" was an isolated incident, but many blamed the economic crisis hounding ordinary Italians and called for the new government to act.

"This has its roots in an increasingly widespread social desperation. The dramatic problems the country is living through call for strong, radical decisions," said Rosy Bindi, former president of the Democratic Party (PD).

Agressor arrested

Police tackled the aggressor, Luigi Preiti, after he shot two officers in the neck and leg and begged them to kill him, according to media reports. He was reportedly depressed after failing to find a job.

The magistrate who interviewed Preiti, Pierfilippo Laviani, told ANSA news agency "he wanted to shoot the politicians (the cabinet) but as he couldn't get near them, he shot the police." The shooting cast a shadow over the swearing in of a team meant to bring hope after over two months of bitter post-election deadlock watched closely by European partners.

Letta was appointed by President Giorgio Napolitano after the centre-left won February elections but without the majority needed to govern.

The 46-year-old, one of the European Union's youngest prime ministers, is expected to unveil his programme in a parliamentary session on April 29, before the government is put to a confidence vote in parliament on April 29.

The deadlock had thwarted efforts to end the worst recession in Italy in 20 years, and Letta has said he wants to move quickly to tackle unemployment - currently 11.6 percent - and boost growth.

The leftist leader also wants to move away from the austerity imposed by his technocrat predecessor Mario Monti to protect Italy from the eurozone debt crisis - a promise which will be followed closely by investors concerned about Italy's two-trillion-euro ($2.6-trillion) debt mountain.