Four killed in southern Italy amid mafia turf war

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Foggia (Italy), Aug 9 (IANS/AKI) Gunmen killed four people in an ambush in Italy’s southern Puglia region on Wednesday, the latest slayings believed to have been carried out by feuding local mafia clans in the Gargano peninsula.

The victims died in a hail of bullets when the gunmen opened fire with Kalashnikov rifles on two cars on a highway near the town of San Marco in Lamis in the province of Foggia, said police.

Two victims were found dead in a car near the town’s station while the lifeless body of a third person was found inside a truck in nearby countryside. The fourth victims was pulled alive from the truck but died from his injuries soon after reaching hospital, police said.

Police identified the first two victims as 50-year-old Mario Luciano Romito, a boss from the Romito clan and his brother-in-law, Matteo De Palma, who was driving the Volkswagen.

The occupants of the truck were two local farmers, Luigi and Aurelio Luciani, both in their forties. They were innocent bystanders slain by the gunmen because they witnessed Romito and De

Palma’s killings, investigators believe.

Prosecutors in the city of Foggia and anti-mafia investigators in Puglia’s regional capital, Bari, are spearheading a probe into Wednesday’s murders.

A total of 17 people have been killed so far this year in the suspected mafia killings and a further two people have disappeared and are feared dead.

Just two weeks ago, a 31-year-old man with previous criminal convictions was shot dead on July 26 at his restaurant in the coastal resort of Vieste in front of his wife and 7-month-old daughter.

Puglia’s mafia, called the Sacra Colonna Unita, is Italy’s fourth main organised crime syndicate, after the Calabrian mafia (‘Ndrangheta), the Naples mafia (Camorra) and the Sicilian mafia (Cosa Nostra).

–IANS/AKI

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