An Italian man with extreme right-wing views opened fire in an outdoor market in Florence Tuesday, killing two vendors from Senegal, then critically wounded three other Senegalese immigrants in another Florence market before killing himself, authorities said.
Florence prosecutor Giuseppe Quattrocchi said the man shot himself in the head in an underground parking lot under the covered market of San Lorenzo, in the heart of the Tuscan capital, as police were approaching him.
Investigators identified the attacker as 50-year-old Gianluca Casseri. RAI state TV said he was known to police for having participated in racist marches by an extreme right-wing group. It said he used a .357 Magnum revolver.
Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, decried what he called the "barbarous killing of two foreign workers" and denounced "this blind explosion of hatred." In a statement, Napolitano called on Italian authorities and society to "combat in the bud every form of intolerance and to reaffirm the tradition of openness and solidarity in our country."
Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi described the assailant as a "clear-headed, mad and racist killer," the Italian news agency ANSA said. Renzi added: "Florence is weeping."
After the attacks, Senegalese immigrants in Florence started spontaneously marching toward the center of the city, yelling "Senegal, Senegal."
Many Senegalese work as vendors, selling scarves, wallets, belts, handbags and other items to locals and tourists near monuments in several Italian cities, including Florence and Rome.
The attacks in Florence while many people were out for lunch came on the same day as a grenade attack on a crowd of holiday shoppers in the Belgian city of Liege. There, a man armed with grenades and an assault rifle attacked the crowd, leaving three people and the attacker dead and 75 wounded, authorities said.
Last summer in Norway, a Norwegian man apparently motivated by a hatred of immigrants went on a bomb and shooting spree that killed 77 people,