Security ramped up in Italy after Boston bombings

Airports, consulates on heightened watch

Security ramped up in Italy after Boston bombings

Rome, April 16 - The American embassy, consulates and various U.S. institutions in Italy were under heightened security Tuesday following explosions that killed three people near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Police forces were called to guard American university campuses, and travel hubs such as Rome's major international airport Fiumicino upped security checks. Special attention was being paid to flights considered "at risk or sensitive," authorities said, namely on American or Israeli carriers. Organizers of the America's Cup World Series in Naples were "ramping up security" for the yachting event April 16-21, Campania Governor Stefano Caldoro told ANSA. Italian leaders were quick to condemn the multiple-explosion attack, the worst on American soil since September 11, 2001. At least three were killed and over 100 injured, many of whom lost limbs. Outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti sent a message to United States President Barack Obama to give Rome's support to the American people. Monti described the bombings as a "cowardly act of violence that provokes scorn" and caused "suffering and horror". "In these tragic moments, we are profoundly close to the American government and the American people with feelings of fraternal solidarity," Monti said. "I especially express profound condolences to the families of the victims and our sincerest best wishes to the injured. "I'm certain that even in these painful circumstances, America will know how to respond while reaffirming its great fundamental values of civilisation". Boston police sources said that there were so far no reports of any Italians being hurt in the bombings. An estimated 300 Italians were at the event, of which 227 were registered runners in the world's oldest marathon. One of them, longtime Italian marathon runner Salvatore Giansiracusa, told ANSA he thought the first explosion was part of a celebration. "Then I heard the second was terrifying. At that point I saw people fleeing and I knew what was going on," he said. The deputy mayor of an Italian town was also among the runners and witnessed the explosions up close. "What happened is terrible. It's a surreal situation in Boston now. We're trying to understand when we can come back to Italy because the airport is closed," said Stefano Valsetti, deputy mayor of Cairo Montenotte in northern Italy. "I passed the finish line exactly nine minutes before the two explosions, and I was there in the area when they went off. Up to then the mood was festive, then suddenly the city entered into panic. Now we're all in the hotel waiting to find out how to get home". Obama pledged that US authorities would track down the culprits behind the blasts. Italy's outgoing President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano expressed his "deepest solidarity and disdain". "They struck where our societies are most vulnerable, because we are engaged in the daily construction of peaceful civil cohabitation," he said in a message to Obama. "However no act of violence will prevent us from keeping faith in our values and in our trust in freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Napolitano continued. The head of state added that Italy would continue to work alongside the US in the fight against terrorism. At the Vatican, Pope Francis sent a message of condolence for the victims, saying he was "deeply pained" by the "senseless tragedy". The message was sent to Boston Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley.

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