ROME — Italian police on Sunday were investigating a Somali asylum-seeker for attempted murder after he allegedly slashed two ticket controllers aboard a bus in the beach resort town of Rimini, then wounded three other people, including a boy, as he fled.
Investigators are ruling out terrorism as a motive and hypothesize that the 26-year-old man was under the influence of drugs during the knife attack Saturday night, according to reports on Italy’s state broadcaster RAI.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said she would meet with local security officials on Monday in Rimini to review “the very grave episode.” Lamorgese has been under attack by right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, who heads the anti-migrant League party. Salvini has been demanding that Lamorgese crack down more heavily on illegal migration.
The man, who apparently didn’t have a bus ticket, slashed the controllers who had asked to see his ticket, leaving the two women wounded, news reports said. When the bus driver opened the door, the attacker fled. As police gave chase, the man allegedly slashed three more persons along his path. They included a six-year-old boy who was sitting with his mother in a local outdoor market.
The boy was in critical condition on Sunday after surgery for his wounds, including on his neck.
Police arrested the man after catching up with him on a side street flanking a hotel.
The man, who wasn’t identified, apparently had been denied asylum in several European countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, since arriving in Europe in 2015, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said. State TV said the man had applied for asylum in Italy and was living in a migrant residence run by a Catholic charity in Rimini.