At least six African immigrants were injured after an Italian gunman opened fire on the city of Macerata in a racially-motivated attack, according to police.
Authorities named the suspected shooter as Luca Traini, a 28-year-old from the same region, located about 125 miles east of Rome.
Police said he had an Italian flag draped over his shoulders when he was arrested in the street by armed officers. A pistol was found in his nearby car.
Earlier in the day, chaos prevailed in the city as authorities advised residents to stay indoors following reports of multiple shootings. All of those injured in the “drive-by” attacks were of “foreign nationality”, according to police.
Macerata resident Marcello Mancini said Mr Traini had been targeting “coloured people”. He said: “He drove around in his car and when he saw any coloured people he shot them."
The ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) said the suspect had stood as a candidate for the right-wing Northern League at local elections last year and accused him of also firing shots at one of their offices in Macerata before he was arrested.
The league backs fiercely anti-immigrant policies and is part of ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right alliance that is leading in the polls ahead of a 4 March national election.
Newspaper Corriere della Sera said a man fired from a car window at two young African migrants shortly after 11am (10am GMT) on Saturday, injuring one of them. A short while later another migrant and an African woman were shot.
Police said one of the six victims was seriously hurt and needed surgery, but gave no further details.
The shootings happened just days after the body of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro was discovered cut up and hidden in two suitcases. A Nigerian migrant has been arrested in connection with the death.
Macerata Mayor Romano Carancini said: “They were all of colour, this is obviously a grave fact. As was grave what happened to Pamela. The closeness of the two events makes you imagine there could be a connection.”
Reports suggested the alleged perpetrator, Innocent Oseghale, was denied asylum last year but had remained in Macerata to appeal against the decision.
“What was this worm still doing in Italy?” Northern League leader Matteo Salvini wrote on Facebook, accusing the centre-left government of responsibility for Ms Mastropietro’s death for allowing migrants to stay in the country. “The left has blood on its hands,” he wrote.
Local media said the two incidents were linked.
Additional reporting by agencies