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Task Force Created to Combat Letter Bomb Campaign - 2004-01-06

Italy's Interior Ministry has announced the creation of a European task force to combat an anarchist letter bomb campaign, which appears to originate in the city of Bologna.

Italian authorities believe a letter bomb campaign that has been targeting senior European officials since the end of December, was launched by anarchists in Bologna. So far, seven letter bombs have been delivered, but no one has been injured.

Anti-terrorist experts from EU nations gathered in Rome Monday to discuss how to combat the problem. The meeting included representatives from Europol and the European crime-fighting organization Eurojust. Top officials from both organizations were sent explosive devices last month.

Officials at the Rome meeting agreed to establish a European task force aimed at combating what they called an "anarchist insurrection. The force will be coordinated by Italy.

The Italian interior ministry says the multinational force will spend two months gathering data on violent anarchists across the EU before making recommendations to police.

Two of three bombs sent Monday to members of the European parliament exploded. One was addressed to Gary Titley in Manchester, England, and the other to Germany's Hans-Gert Poettering at his address in Brussels.

Bomb disposal experts in Belgium are combing the mail in the central Brussels sorting office looking for other suspicious packages. In Bologna last week, the city's chief attorney ordered a suspension of all mail deliveries from the city to European Union offices.

A previously unknown Italian group calling itself the Informal Anarchist Federation is believed to be behind the bombing campaign. At the end of last year it threatened to target what it called the EU's repressive apparatus of control.