Italian minister's aide is shot dead

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A LAWYER who once served as a government under-secretary and was a consultant to Italy's Labour Minister was shot dead in Rome yesterday, sparking fears that political terrorism had returned to Italy.

Massimo D'Antona was shot outside his home by two young men in jeans and denim jackets who had been hiding in a parked van, the Interior Minister, Rosa Russo Jervolino, told parliament. He was hit by two bullets and his killers may have used silencers because witnesses said they heard no shots.

Mr D'Antona was an expert on workers' rights and advised the Labour Minister, Antonio Bassolino.

The killing of Mr D'Antonahad all the hallmarks of the guerrilla attacks that bloodied Italy in the Seventies and Eighties. Mr Jervolino said it had "revived the terrible memories of the past".

A document purporting to come from the Red Brigades, a guerrilla group that was thought to have been eliminated, claimed responsibility for the killing.

The Ansa news agency said the document had been received by the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero and had been confiscated by police who, the agency said, were taking the claim more seriously than calls made to a number of other news organisations. (Reuters)