Twenty Italians wounded in a suicide truck explosion in southern Iraq earlier this week returned to Italy Thursday. The country, which was horrified by the incident in southern Iraq, followed the arrival of its men on state television.
The injured of the Italian base in Nassiriyah were flown back from Iraq on a C-130 aircraft. They appeared at Rome's Ciampino airport shaken by what they had experienced.
Some had bandages on their faces. They boarded ambulances and were taken to a military hospital for treatment.
The bodies of the 18 Italians killed will be flown back to Italy on Saturday. They will be laid in state at the Vittoriano monument in central Rome on Monday.
The loss of so many Italians shocked the nation. Wednesday's was the deadliest attack on Italian forces since World War II.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government has proclaimed a national day of mourning on Tuesday, the day that state funerals will be held in a Rome basilica.
Students at schools across Italy will observe a minute of silence. And, in a further tribute to the dead, the normally floodlit Colosseum will stay dark.