Two police officers were shot and wounded outside the Italian prime minister's office on Sunday as Enrico Letta's new government was being sworn in around a kilometer (mile) away at the president's palace in Rome, police and witnesses said.
One man, described by witnesses as well dressed, was arrested at the scene of the shooting where a crowd was waiting for Letta to arrive but it was initially unclear whether the attack was linked to the launch of the new government.
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"We still have to understand who he is. He's been caught," Antonio Catricala, a cabinet undersecretary in the former government told reporters.
A police official told Reuters that the man was from the southern region of Calabria and having fired several shots at the two police on duty outside the prime minister's office, he shouted "shoot me, shoot me" to other police nearby.
Italian government sworn in (Photo: AFP)
Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, said the shooting could not be described as terrorism although the bitter political climate of the past few months has increased tensions.
"It's not an act of terrorism but certainly the climate of the past few months has not helped," Alemanno told reporters.
Letta and his new cabinet were due to come to the prime minister's office to accept a transfer of power from the outgoing government of Mario Monti at 1 pm (1100 GMT).
One of the officers was shot in the neck and was in a serious condition, a police official said. Another was hit in the leg and was less seriously hurt. Italian media said a passer-by had also been injured but not seriously.
Officer shot in the neck (Photo: AP)
Five or six shots were fired and police had found five spent shells from a small caliber weapon, another official said.
Letta, 46, the moderate deputy head of the Democratic Party (PD), on Saturday ended two months of political stalemate since February's inconclusive election when he brought together former political rivals in a broad coalition government.
Letta's ministers stepped forward one by one to swear allegiance to the republic before President Giorgio Napolitano, who personally picked Letta as prime minister and had a central sole in the choice of his cabinet team.
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