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Reports: Cops shot outside Italian premier office

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Italian Premier-designate Enrico Letta speaks during a press conference at the Quirinale Presidential Palace in Rome, Saturday.

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ROME — Two Italian paramilitary police officers were shot and wounded today in a crowded square outside the premier’s office in Rome as Italy’s new leader was being sworn in a half-mile away.

An AP television producer saw two wounded officers, one of them lying on the pavement with blood pouring out of his neck. Seven bullets lay on the square.

The Italian news agency ANSA said the assailant, described in reports as a man dressed in a suit and tie, was detained by police.

The shooting came just as Premier Enrico Letta and his Cabinet took their oaths in the Quirinal presidential office a day after he nailed down a coalition deal between his center-left forces and the conservative bloc of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

It was unclear if there was any connection between the events, but tensions have been running high in Italy following inconclusive elections in February that left the nation in political deadlock.

Italy’s state police chief raced to the scene. An aide to Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told reporters at the presidential palace that the new Cabinet members were being kept inside until the situation became more clear.

The shooting immediately sparked ugly memories of the 1970s and 1980s when domestic terrorism plagued Italy during a time of high political tensions between right-wing and left-wing blocs.

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