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Rome, Italy: Package Bomb Explodes At Public Office, Injuring One

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Pope Benedict XVI (2D-R) prays in front of the Immaculate Conception statue at Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) in Rome on December 8, 2011 on the day dedicated to virgin Mary. Pope Benedict reflected earlier in the day Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in his Angelus address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican. (AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE) | Getty

ROME — A letter bomb exploded Friday at an office of Italy's tax collection agency, wounding the organization's director. Police said an Italian anarchist group that sent a letter bomb to Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt earlier in the week claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Rome police official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said Friday's bomb was contained in a yellow bubble envelope mailed to the director's attention at an Equitalia office on the outskirts of Rome.

The tax agency director, identified by the government as Marco Cuccagna, underwent surgery after suffering injuries to a hand and his face, caused when a glass desktop was shattered by the explosion, Equitalia official Angelo Coco told the ANSA news agency.

Italy's Informal Anarchist Federation claimed responsibility. The claim included in the package was "very similar" to that which was contained in the Deutsche Bank letter bomb, which didn't explode, a police official said.

The group, known in Italy as FAI, had warned in its Deutsche Bank claim that there would be three "explosions" in its latest campaign. Last year around Christmas, the anarchist group sent package bombs to three Roman embassies, injuring two people.

Premier Mario Monti, who is pushing a package of tax hikes and spending cuts to help Italy solve a financial crisis, issued a statement expressing solidarity with Cuccagna, as did Italy's president.

"Equitalia has always done, and continues to do, its duty in full compliance with the law. It performs an essential role for the functioning of the state, without which it would be possible to provide services to citizens and their families," said Monti, who is in Brussels for a European Union summit.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemmano called the bombing "an evil, vile act," and urged vigilance.

"There is someone who wants to take advantage in terroristic terms of the sacrifices that Italy must take to get out of the crisis," Alemmano said on Tgcom24 television.

On Wednesday in Frankfurt, a routine mailroom screening found a bomb contained in a small package that was addressed to Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann. The explosive was deactivated without incident.

Tucked alongside that bomb was a letter of responsibility from the anarchist group.

The letter, written in Italian, promised "three explosions against banks, bankers, ticks and bloodsuckers," according to the Hesse state Criminal Office.

Germany's Federal Prosecutors' Office, responsible for national security and terrorism probes, said Friday it is taking over the investigation. The letter contained about 50 grams of explosive and a fully functional trigger, it said.

On Dec. 23, 2010, identical package bombs exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome, badly wounding the two people who opened them. A third bomb was safely defused at the Greek Embassy four days later.

The anarchist group claimed responsibility for the embassy bombs, saying it was acting in solidarity with jailed Greek anarchists who had asked their comrades to organize and coordinate a global "revolutionary war."

Extreme left-wing and anarchist movements have existed for decades in Europe. They staged deadly attacks across the continent in the 1960s and 1970s.

Though more sporadic in recent decades, official figures from the European Union's police agency, Europol, show that attacks linked to such groups are on the rise, with most of the incidents in Italy, Spain and Greece.

Greece, Spain and more recently Italy have been hit hard by government cutbacks and unemployment resulting from a continentwide debt crisis.

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Barry reported from Milan. Gianfranco Starra in Rome and Juergen Baetz in Berlin contributed.

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