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Italy Launches Anti-Terror Probe After Bomb Fizzles at Prodi Residence

Italy launched an anti-terrorist investigation to try to find those responsible for a parcel bomb delivered to the home of European Commission President Romano Prodi. The package burst into flames when Mr. Prodi opened it, but he escaped unhurt.

European Commission President Prodi spoke to journalists outside his home in Bologna, following the parcel bomb incident to assure the public he was fine and unhurt.

He said the package had been addressed to his wife and that he had opened it with caution. Mr. Prodi said it contained a copy of the novel The Pleasure, by Gabriele D'Annunzio, and that the pages had been removed and replaced by a volatile powder. Mr. Prodi said there was a big flame when he opened the package, but no explosion. He was uninjured.

The commission president normally lives in Brussels, but spends his Christmas holidays at his home in Italy.

Mr. Prodi was sent the parcel bomb less than a week after two small, homemade explosives were found hidden in trash bins in the street near his home in Bologna. Those devices also went off without hurting anyone.

A group calling itself the Informal Anarchic Federation claimed responsibility for the trash-bins bombs. In a letter sent to an Italian daily newspaper, the group said it wanted to target what it called the apparatus of control that is repressive and leading the democratic show that is the new European order.

Following the latest incident, Mr. Prodi received messages of support from senior politicians, including Italy's head of state and prime minister.

Mr. Prodi's presidency of the European Commission comes to an end in 2004. He is expected to be a possible challenger of the center-left opposition to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Italy's next general elections.