ROME (Reuters) - Bomb disposal experts defused an explosive package at the Greek embassy in Rome on Monday, days after parcel bomb attacks claimed by an Italian anarchist group wounded two people at the Swiss and Chilean missions.
Police said the bomb at the Greek embassy resembled those which exploded in Rome last week, wounding an employee at the Chilean embassy and also a Swiss embassy staff member.
“The package was similar to the ones at the other embassies,” Maurizio Mezzavilla, an official of the carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police, told reporters outside the embassy, and said that anarchist involvement “could not be ruled out.”
Authorities were on high alert after last week’s attacks and there were several false alarms as mailroom staff coming back from the Christmas break worked through the post.
Police were called to the Venezuelan, Danish, Monaco, Kuwaiti and Albanian embassies and the Finnish embassy to the Vatican but found only harmless parcels.
But the discovery at the Greek mission highlighted a real threat.
“A suspect package arrived. We immediately informed the carabinieri who arrived immediately and neutralised the bomb,” Michael Campanis, the Greek ambassador to Italy told reporters.
He said the package, addressed by hand, arrived in the embassy on December 24.
“We had not received any threats previously. The packet arrived on Friday afternoon when the embassy was already closed. The staff member found it this morning but security measures had already been stepped up,” he said.
In Washington, an official said all U.S. embassies worldwide had been told to review mail screening procedures and to stay vigilant when opening mail.
“In Rome, we are monitoring the situation with local law enforcement,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
Last week, an Italian anarchist group called the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) claimed responsibility in a note for the parcel bombs at the Swiss and Chilean embassies.
The incidents have reawakened concern over a potential rise in violence by domestic European militant groups as social tensions have grown after the financial crisis and government austerity packages imposed to pay for it.
The attacks bore similarities to an episode in Greece last month in which far-left militants sent parcel bombs to foreign governments and embassies in Athens.
Last week’s note was signed by the “Lambros Fountas revolutionary cell” of the FAI, which Italian media said was a reference to a Greek anarchist killed in a clash with Greek police in Athens in March.
Investigators have noted the past preference of anarchist splinter groups for attacks over the Christmas period and said last week that more were likely.
Additional reporting by Antonella Cinelli and Roberto Landucci in Rome and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by David Stamp and John O'Callaghan