MOTTA DI LIVENZA, Italy – An electric votive candle exploded in the hands of a 6-year-old girl during Mass in a church in northeastern Italy (search), seriously wounding her and renewing fears that a serial bomber who has terrorized the region for more than 10 years had struck again.
Two others in the Roman Catholic church in the town of Motta di Livenza (search), 36 kilometers (22 miles) from the city of Treviso, were slightly injured Sunday.
Surgeons reconstructed the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the girl's left hand, doctors told reporters at Pordenone (search) hospital, where the girl had been flown by helicopter.
The child, who had been trying to light the candle when it blew up, suffered shock and "will have some damage but she will be able to use her hand again," Dr. Ruggero Mele, head of the surgical team, told Sky TG24 TV.
The arrival of Venice Prosecutor Luca Marini who has been probing the so-called "Italian Unabomber" as well as other investigators underlined the concern that the attack could be the work of the serial bomber.
An explosive device was hidden in the candle, Marini was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency in Treviso.
Several of the bombs investigators have blamed on the attacker over the past 11 years were packaged in objects likely to attract children, including a soap bubble container, a colorful marker pen, a jar of a popular snack spread and plastic eggs which normally hold surprise trinkets.
"We heard a big boom and then I saw Greta fall backward covered in blood," Sara Crosato said of her daughter, who was trying to light the candle toward the end of Mass.
The husband of a woman who was slightly injured by the explosion told ANSA in Motta di Livenza that Greta was having trouble inserting coins into the slot to make the light turn on.
"Seeing the little one in difficulty, my wife first handed me our son of 13 months, whom she was holding in her arms, and she went near Greta. She guided her hand until she could insert the candle directly into the candle hole. That's when the explosion happened," ANSA quoted the husband, identified as Paolo P., as saying.
Reports said the bomber was believed to have hidden explosives in an electric candle at a town cemetery in 2001, seriously injuring a 63-year-old woman.
"I think he wants to cause the most pain and suffering possible to the community and its families," Mayor Graziano Panighel told Sky TG24 television.
Police bomb experts combed the 16th-century stone church, which did not appear to be seriously damaged.
Whoever is behind the blasts has been likened in the Italian media to the reclusive American "Unabomber," who sent dozens of bombs through the U.S. mail for nearly 20 years.
One of the victims of the bombs in Italy was a girl who lost the sight in one eye after she picked up the booby-trapped marker during a family picnic in the Treviso area. The exploding soap bubble jar injured a 5-year-old boy in 2002.
In January, a children's plastic treat container exploded in the northeast city of Trieste when a schoolboy kicked it in the street during a class trip. No one was injured.
Reforms minister Roberto Calderoli, whose political base is in northern Italy, called for the death penalty for anyone trying to target children in such a way, ANSA reported.