Embassies targeted by terrorist bombers

Package bombs exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome yesterday, injuring the two people who opened them and heightening fears of a European terror attack.

Police ordered checks at all embassies after a false alarm was also reported at the Ukrainian embassy.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but authorities appeared to discount domestic anarchists or protesters.

"It's a wave of terrorism against embassies, something much more worrisome than a single attack," Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said.

He added that Italian authorities were following an "international path" in their investigations, distinguishing the attack from a fake bomb found earlier this week on a subway in the city.

Last month, suspected Greek radical anarchists sent 14 mail bombs to foreign embassies in Athens – including the Swiss – as well as to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi.

Nobody was hurt and only two devices exploded, causing no injuries. A group called Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire claimed responsibility.

The first bomb yesterday exploded inside the Swiss embassy at around noon.

The man who opened it was taken to hospital with serious hand injuries but his life was not in danger.

About three hours later, witnesses outside the Chilean embassy said they heard a blast, sending police to the scene.

One person was injured, police said.

Rome police chief Francesco Tagliente said a suspicious package at the Ukrainian embassy was a false alarm, but added that all embassies in the Italian capital had been informed of the blasts.

There have been growing concerns in Europe about holiday season attacks following a suicide bombing in Sweden and security services' fears of an assault on a European city modelled on the deadly shooting spree in Mumbai, India.