Cosa Nostra

The bomb blast outside the vocational school in Brindisi, Apulia (Puglia) killed one and injured five, at least one seriously, reported all major tabloids across Europe. The girl killed was named as 16-year-old Melissa Bassi. A second injured girl was initially reported as dead by police sources. However, she is alive though in a very serious condition under medical care of the local hospital.

A devastating accident brought up a wide range of comments concerning the persona of the attacker. Some investigators believe that the attack on the school was carried out by a bomber operating alone, but the majority of the population believes the attack was carried out by the Pugliese Mafia.

Students were arriving for Saturday morning lessons to the school named after Judge Francesca Morvillo Falcone, a victim of a notorious Mafia bombing in Sicily nearly 20 years ago, when a device planted in a waste bin exploded. The link with the Mafia was suggested straight away since the town and the school have huge symbolic significance for the Mafia world.

Brindisi, the coastal town in the Southern Italy also referred to as ‘the heel’ is placed on the Adriatic Sea and is known for well-established smuggling channels of cigarettes, drugs, alcohol and arms as well as human trafficking from the former Yugoslavia republics. The place alongside with Lecce, the capital of Apulia province is the area of the Sacra Corona Unita criminal activity. The organisation was claimed to evolve from the Camorra Mafia organisation and was founded by Raffaele Cutolo in 1970s, who wanted to expand his operations into Puglia.

The school itself seems to be no coincidence either, the vocation school named after late Francesca Laura Morvillo Falcone, a judge who was killed alongside her prosecutor husband, anti-Mafia hero Giovanni Falcone, in a highway bombing in Sicily. They were killed on 23 May 1992, exactly 20 years ago.

The school bombing was only one link in a chain of events that struck Italy during the whole month. The recent attacks were carried out against Italian officials and government or public buildings also including the shooting and wounding of an official from a nuclear engineering firm. In fact the attacks were regarded so serious that government on Friday assigned bodyguards to 550 individuals, and deployed 16,000 law enforcement officers nationwide.

Moreover, Italy has extensive record of Mafia attacks against civilians that peaked in 1970s and 80s known as the ‘years of lead’, and the school bomb blast has revived those painful memories once again.

However, the official version is that the attack was most likely committed by a single individual. The Brindisi’s Chief Prosecutor commented on the attack saying:

“An isolated act is a likely hypothesis.”

In fact, the police seem to possess video footage with a man lingering in the area on Saturday just before 7:45 a.m., the time the bomb went off, holding a device that might be a detonator.

Corriere della Sera the biggest newspaper in Italy commented that the public and the government need answers as soon as possible. And, indeed, the pressure in the South is rising and the officials fear that violent campaigning might sweep the region since the attacks of the terrorist groups and mob crimes are well imprinted in the memory of the whole nation.


By: Ksenia Solovyova, Irina Czakó and Crystal Blankenbaker


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