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Lethal bombing triggers student protests around Italy

ROME - Italians demonstrated in towns around the country late Saturday in outrage over the death of a 16-year-old girl from a school bombing in Brindisi that provoked fears of another round of mafia warfare.

Groups gathered at the Pantheon in Rome, including many students who had tears in their eyes. "No one must die in a school," read one of the posters carried by protesters.

In the southern town of Brindisi, crowds carried signs saying: "Brindisi cries with the victims." Other signs were aimed against the mafia.

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Fashion student Melissa Bassi was killed and at least 10 other people were injured in a bomb blast early Saturday at a vocational school in the southern city of Brindisi. At least one of the victims remained in critical condition, while others suffered serious burns.

"Whoever carried out the attack had clearly considered that it could possibly cause a massacre," Italy's police chief Antonio Manganelli said.

The bomb, reportedly consisting of three gas cylinders, went off at around 7:45 a.m. local time as pupils, mostly female students, were entering classes at the school.

Blame for the blast initially fell on the mafia.

The school is named after the wife of Giovanni Falcone, a judge famous for his work in prosecuting the mafia. Both were killed in Sicily by a mafia bomb attack on May 23, 1992. Memorial ceremonies are expected to take place for the couple next week.

Anti-mafia marchers, who began protests in Rome on April 11, had been expected to arrive in Brindisi on Saturday.

Brindisi's Mayor, Mimmo Consales, told a local television station TeleNorba he believed the blast was an "unprecedented attack by organized crime"

But Manganelli was more cautious. "Even the mafia has never pushed so far as was done in this attack," he told television news channel Sky TG24.

Manganelli said it was "very unlikely" that the motive was a "crime of passion" linked to the personal life of someone at the school, as some reports had suggested

The school building was cleared and police cordoned off the area.

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