Italian 'Unabomber' uses child's chocolate egg to hide explosive

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The Independent Online

A mysterious crank with advanced skills in miniature bombmaking, whose devices have several times come close to killing people, has struck again. In Italy they call him "Unabomber", and his stamping ground is the north-east.

A mysterious crank with advanced skills in miniature bombmaking, whose devices have several times come close to killing people, has struck again. In Italy they call him "Unabomber", and his stamping ground is the north-east.

He has yet to prove as dangerous as Ted Kaczynski, the murderous American mail bomber who was tracked down after a 17-year hunt and is serving four life sentences. But he is proving no less elusive than that Harvard-educated loner.

After a 10-year police hunt in the cities of Venice, Treviso, Udine and Pordenone, detectives are no closer to identifying the maniac. They assume it is a man but they cannot even be sure of that. And he continues to menace the region. Yesterday he was back, after an absence of nearly two years.

Between 9am and 9.30am, a group of schoolchildren in the town of Treviso were walking between their school and the town's theatre where they were to enjoy a play. One of them spotted the oval yellow container of a Kinder Surprise sitting on a low wall. The Surprise, as most children know, is a hollow chocolate egg, inside which there is a yellow plastic container holding a small gift. In this case, the chocolate egg was missing.

The boy gave the container a kick and the children were passing it between each other like a football when it blew up. Luckily, none of them was injured.

On police advice, the children continued with their planned theatre excursion. Another yellow Surprise found near by was removed by a small police robot for examination.

Initially, officers insisted it was "too early to say" whether the new bomb was the Unabomber's handiwork, but later one of the investigators told La Repubblica newspaper: "There is a 99 per cent likelihood that the attack is the work of the Unabomber."

The first attack came in August 1994, when a pipe-bomb exploded during a country fair in the town of Sacile, injuring four people. In September of the next year, another pipe-bomb blew up when a 70-year-old woman picked it up, leading to the amputation of an arm.

Several more people were hurt by exploding pipe-bombs in the following five years. The bombs contained pieces of iron or glass, and injured passers-by dozens of metres away.

The bomber took a break between February 1998, and March 2000. Then in 2000 his tactics - if the maniac is a he, and if it is a single person - changed when he began installing tiny bombs in supermarket products. In November of that year, a tube of tomato puree exploded in a kitchen when the woman who had bought it opened it.

A suspiciously heavy tube of mayonnaise was opened by carabinieri and found to be packed with explosive. A candle went off the next year, then a jar of Nutella, and the bombings took an evil new turn in September 2002, when a tube of soap bubbles exploded in the hands of a child.

Further bombs have detonated in a church confessional, the cistern of a public toilet and a child's felt-tip pen. In the latter case the victim, a young girl, was lucky not to lose a hand and an eye.

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