The bus in Rimini on which the Somali asylum seeker started a knife attack. He wounded five people, including a six-year-old | ANSA /
The bus in Rimini on which the Somali asylum seeker started a knife attack. He wounded five people, including a six-year-old | ANSA /

A Somali asylum seeker on Saturday was arrested by police after stabbing five people in Rimini. The victims include a child with Bangladeshi roots who suffered grave stab wounds to the throat. The incident sparked a political controversy with the League party attacking Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese

The 26-year-old male Somali asylum seeker said he did not know why he had carried out the knife attack and uttered just a few words in English to tell the prosecutor questioning him after the attack that he did not remember anything.

The man does not understand Italian and only speaks his language, investigative sources said.

Hosted by the Red Cross, the man had been living in Italy for two months prior to the attack, after a period in Europe, in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands to request the status of refugee.

Without apparent reason, in an altered state of mind, he started a fight after being asked to show a valid ticket, which he did not have, on bus number 11 in Rimini.

The fight culminated in the knife attack in which five people, including the small child, were injured. The six-year-old was in critical condition before he was pronounced out of danger on Sunday morning by medical personnel at the local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The other four victims are all women.

Terrorism ruled out, man under possible infuence of alcohol, drugs

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said Monday that the attack was not an act of terrorism. "We have ruled out terrorism," Lamorgese said after taking part in a meeting of a security committee in the Adriatic city.

Investigators had said on Sunday that the knife attack "should not be connected in any way to terrorist environments" to calm concern in the city on Saturday, September 11, a key day in the history of international terrorism.

Police sources said the young man was probably under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In surveillance videos of bus 11, the ticket inspectors are seen while they approach him and ask for his ticket. When he is warned that he will have to pay a fine because he does not have a valid ticket, he stabs the two women in the neck and face.

He subsequently got off the bus and attacked the two women he met and the child before being arrested by police.

He is now in prison on charges of attempted homicide, injuries and attempted robbery.

Political controversy

Following the attack, Interior Minister Lamorgese has come under fire. "If she is unable to do her job she should leave," League leader Matteo Salvini said.

The opposition right-wing Brothers of Italy (Fdl) party asked for her resignation.

Interviewed by Milan daily Corriere della Sera, the minister kept her technical profile, with no inclination to controversy, noting that "when attacks start from those supporting the government, becoming incessant and personal, they end up damaging the image of the administration and of the entire executive at a very delicate time for the country in which more cohesion would be necessary."

Premier Mario Draghi over the past few days defended the minister saying she "works really well".


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