Two Senegalese traders have been killed by an Italian man while three others have been injured. The killer is said to have opened fire in two markets in central Florence.
According to the Italian media, 50 years old Gianluca Casseri who carried out the attack is a member of an Italian far-right group.
After killing two men and injuring a third man at the Dalmazia square, the attacker went further to San Lorenzo square where he continued his shooting thereby injuring another two men.
Mr Casseri committed suicide by shooting himself after completing his project. His dead body was found by the police in an underground car parking facility.
Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, criticized “this blind explosion of hatred” and called on Italian authorities and the public to “combat in the bud every form of intolerance and to reaffirm the tradition of openness and solidarity in our country”.
According to the mayor of Florence, the shooting spree was that of an unstable individual acting on his own.
“These are the actions of a lone killer – a lucid, mad and racist killer,” Matteo Renzi said, adding that such behaviour was aliens to the residents of the city and had shocked it to its core.
Casseri is described to have peacefully got out of a car in Dalmazia Square and started the shooting, killing the two Senegalese in the market, as well as wounding a third person.
“I heard what I thought were fireworks but when I turned around I saw three men bleeding on the floor,” a market trader who witnessed the violence told La Repubblica.
As shoppers and traders fled in panic, some people tried to go after Casseri, but he absconded in his car.
He later went to another square near one of the city’s largest cathedral where he continued shooting at other Senegalese traders at another market there. No one was killed at the second shooting, however, two other victims were said to be injured.
Dozens of Africans living in the city – most of whom earn their income selling knick-knacks and counterfeit designer bags to visitors – have paraded through the city centre in demonstration of the killings, knocking over mopeds, bins and street signs.
A published writer of science-fiction novels, Casseri is reported to have belonged to a far-right group known as Casa Pound.
The group tried to detach itself from Casseri by saying it was against any form of violence.
According to the groups regional manager, Fabio Barsanti, Casseri as is “lonely” and “living in his own world” but certainly “not crazy”