A man was arrested Saturday on suspicion of a series of drive-by shootings targeting African migrants in the central Italian city of Macerata, according to police.
The shootings occurred just days after a Nigerian man was arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of an an 18-year-old Italian woman, whose dismembered body was discovered in two suitcases near Macerata.
The suspect in Saturday’s attack is a 28-year-old man from Macerata who was captured about two hours after he began a shooting spree from a black car, reports Reuters, citing local officials. Six foreigners were injured in the shooting, one critically.
The incident is likely to raise tensions in Italy in the run-up to national elections on March 4. Immigration from Africa has become a dominant issue in Italian politics, with a center-right alliance calling for more restrictions on the waves of migrants that have swamped many of Italy’s coastal cities.
More than 600,000 mainly African migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea and landed in Italy over the last four years, often times with the assistance of the Italian navy. The center-right alliance has said most of the migrants do not qualify for asylum and should be deported.
Some politicians have pointed to the murder of the young woman near Macerata as a consequence of the Italy’s permissive immigration policies. The Nigerian suspect in that case was denied asylum by Italian authorities but somehow managed to remain in the country.
Macerata Mayor Romano Carancini confirmed that all of the victims in Saturday’s shootings were black, and said “the closeness of these two events makes you imagine that there is a connection,” according to the Associated Press.
Police have not offered a motive for the shootings. Local media are reporting that the suspect wrapped himself in an Italian flag and gave a “fascist” salute before surrendering to authorities.
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