After a long period of quiet, the Italian Unabomber has apparently struck again.

A 28-year-old man from the Venice suburb of Mestre was injured Saturday when he picked up a wine bottle while walking with his girlfriend along the beach at Porto Santa Margherita near Caorle. According to Italian news reports, the man tried to open the bottle to view a note inside and it exploded, severely injuring his hand. According to various reports, he lost a thumb and at least parts of two other fingers and suffered burns. His 24-year-old girlfriend was injured by flying glass and her ears were damaged by the explosion.

Though dubbed the Italian Unabomber by media and local authorities, it is not known with certainty if a single person is carrying out the seemingly random attacks that started in 1994. Unlike Ted Kaczynski — the infamous American terrorist who killed three people and injured two dozen via mail bombs before being caught and sentenced in 1998 — no one has claimed responsibility or explained the motivation of the attacks.

More than 30 people in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions have been injured by the booby-trapped devices over the years. The last attack had been in a church in Treviso in 2005. The incidents have been spread out in many of the cities surrounding Aviano Air Base, and one device was found inside a church in Aviano itself in 1994. Other devices have been placed in products from stores that Americans frequent in places such as Sacile and Pordenone, though others have been planted in places where few Americans would go.

“The Pordenone police have determined that he’s probably a local guy,” said Master Sgt. Darryl LeBouef from the 31st Security Forces Squadron.

Base officials say the attacks don’t appear to be targeting Americans, though they’re at risk as much as any other local residents.

LeBouef said everyone on base should be aware of the potential danger and newcomers are briefed on the situation when they process into Aviano.

He repeated two warnings given out by authorities over the years: Don’t pick up or examine objects seemingly left behind and look carefully at products in stores before buying them.

Explosive devices have been hidden in a variety of containers, including: eggs, a jar of Nutella, a bottle of bubble mix and a can of tomato paste.

Victims have suffered burns or loss of limbs and other extremities.

LeBouef said Americans shopping or sightseeing off base should always be aware of their surroundings and report anyone acting suspiciously to local authorities or contact security forces immediately.

author picture
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up