Terrorists in Milan shot and killed a prominent political reporter for Italy's top newspaper, Corriere della Sera, today, bringing to 30 the number of deaths from political violence so far this year.
In a separate shooting in Rome this morning other gunmen, reportedly members of a right-wing group, killed a policeman and wounded two others and a taxi driver in an attack on a police car.
This morning in Milan, Walter Tobagi, 33, a specialist on terrorism and head of the journalists' association of the Lombardy region, was shot outside his home in the back and in the neck by a gunman hidden behind a bush who then escaped in a waiting car.
The attack, claimed by a group called the March 28 Brigade, was the second this month against a journalist and the ninth in three years. In November 1977 the Red Brigades killed the deputy editor of the Turin daily, La Stampa. One suspect, Patrizio Peci, was captured earlier this year and has said he participated in that crime.
A man describing himself as a member of the March 28 Brigade -- named after the day this year that police in Genoa killed four members of the Red Brigades -- phoned the Milan office of the La Repubblica newspaper today saying, "We have executed the state terrorist Walter Tobagi and we will continue our campaign against the press of the regime."
On May 8, Guido Passalacqua of La Repubblica was attacked in his home, tied, gagged and shot in the legs by terrorists from the same group. According to recent figures released by the Interior Ministry, about 200 suspected terrorists were arrested in the first five months of this year and 320 suspected members of the Red Brigades are now in jail. An ongoing crackdown is thought to have dealt a severe blow to terrorism here, although it clearly is still a problem.
Today's shooting came only two days after a nationwide journalists' strike was called to protest an unprecedented and harsh sentence issued Saturday by a Roman court against Fabio Isman, a journalist from the Rome daily, Il Messaggero, who obtained and published the official transcript of the interrogation of Red Brigades terrorist Peci.
Isman was sentenced to 18 months in jail for conspiring to reveal secret documents. Also sentenced, to 30 months in prison was the deputy chief of Italy's civilian intelligence service, Silvano Russomanno. Russomanno, 56, whose chief job in recent years was maintaining contacts with the antiterrorist organizations of other Western governments, has denied supplying Isman with the documents. Isman refused to testify, but has said that the papers were sent to him anonymously at his paper.