August 1980 Bologna bombing

Bologna massacre

Rescue teams making their way through the rubble.
Location Central Station of Bologna
Date 2 August 1980
10:25 AM
Attack type Bomb attack
Death(s) 85 people killed and more than 200 wounded
Perpetrator(s) Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, members of the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari

The Bologna massacre (Italian: Strage di Bologna) was a terrorist bombing of the Central Station at Bologna, Italy, on the morning of Saturday, 2 August 1980, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. The attack has been materially attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari. Suspicions of an Italian secret service's involvement has emerged shortly after due to the explosives used for the bomb and the political climate in which the massacre happened, but it has never been proved.


Bombing and investigation

Rescuers carrying a victim.
Bystanders assisted with the rescue operations.

At 10:25 a.m., a time-bomb contained in an unattended suitcase detonated inside an air-conditioned waiting room, which, the month being August (and with air conditioning being uncommon in Italy at the time), was crammed full of people. The bomb was made of TNT, T4 and a "Compound B", also known as Composition B. The explosion destroyed most of the main building and hit the AnconaChiasso train that was waiting at the first platform. The blast was heard for miles. The roof of the waiting room collapsed onto the passengers, which greatly increased the total number killed in the terrorist attack.

On that summer Saturday the station was full of tourists and the city was unprepared for such a massive incident. There were not enough ambulances, so buses and taxis were used to transport wounded victims to hospitals.

The attack was recorded as the worst atrocity in Italy since World War II.[1]

The next day, police investigators found metal fragments and scraps of plastics near the source of the explosion.[2] The Italian Government led by Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga first assumed the explosion to have been caused by an accident, but within a short time the NAR were shown to be responsible for the terrorist attack. Later, in a special session to the Senate, Cossiga supported the theory that neofascists were behind the attack, "unlike leftist terrorism, which strikes at the heart of the state through its representatives, black terrorism prefers the massacre because it promotes panic and impulsive reactions."[3][4]


A long, troubled and controversial court case and political issue ensued. The relatives of the victims formed an association (Associazione dei familiari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980) to raise and maintain civil awareness about the case.

General Pietro Musumeci, n°2 of SISMI and revealed in 1981 to be a member of Propaganda Due (P2), was charged with having created falsified evidence to charge Roberto Fiore and Gabriele Andinolfi, two leaders of Terza Posizione who had fled in exile to London, of the bombing.[5] Both Terza Posizione leaders claimed that Musumeci was trying to divert attention from Licio Gelli, head of P2.[5]

A trial involving 20 suspects was initiated in 1987.[6]

In July 1988, four neo-fascists received life terms for the bombing: Valerio Fioravanti (23 at the time of the blast), his wife Francesca Mambro (born in 1960), Massimiliano Fachini and Sergio Picciafuoco. They also received sentences for belonging to an armed group, as well as Paolo Signorelli and Roberto Rinani, who were absolved of the charge for carrying out the attack.[7] Licio Gelli, leader of the masonic P2 lodge, as well as three others, Francesco Pazienza, Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte, received sentences for slandering the investigation.[7] Stefano Delle Chiaie, who was arrested in and extradited from Venezuela a year earlier, was absolved from the charge of subversive association.[8][9]

Two years later, in July 1990, an appeals court cancelled the convictions of the defendants Valerio Fioravanti; his wife, Francesca Mambro; Massimiliano Fachini; and Sergio Picciafuoco, as well as the slander convictions of Gelli and Pazienza.[10] A retrial was ordered in October 1993.[11]

On 23 November 1995, the Court of Cassation (Corte di Cassazione) issued the final sentence:

In April 1998, the former fascist Francesca Mambro was authorized to leave her prison during the day, and carried out activities against the death penalty in the headquarters of the Radical Party.[12]

To date those responsible for the attack and their political motives remain unknown. Some suspected that the Operation Gladio network had been at least partially involved.[13]

Recent developments

In 2004, Luigi Ciavardini, who had been a 17-year-old NAR member associated closely with the Terza Posizione at the time of the Bologna massacre, received a 30-year prison sentence for his role in the attack, which was upheld by the Court of Cassation in April 2007.[14] Freed by the Italian justice until the sentence of the Court of the Cassation, Ciavardini had been imprisoned in October 2006, after being arrested following the armed robbery of the Banca Unicredito di Roma on 15 September 2005.[15][16] Ciavardini was also charged with the assassination of Francesco Evangelista on 28 May 1980, and the assassination of judge Mario Amato in June 1980.[16]

Following the 2006 arrest of former Argentine Triple A member Rodolfo Almirón, Spanish lawyer José Angel Pérez Nievas declared that it was "probable that Almirón participated — along with Stefano Delle Chiaie and Augusto Cauchi — in the 1980 bombing in Bologna's train station." But the Argentine Supreme Court refused in 1998 to extradite Canchi to Italy.[17]

In 2008, former President Francesco Cossiga alleged that PLO-affiliated terrorists from George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were responsible for the bombing,[18] however the PFLP has denied responsibility.[19]


Plaque at the Bologna Central Station

The municipality of Bologna together with the Associazione tra i familiari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980 hold an annual international composition competition, which culminates with a concert in the town's main square, Piazza Maggiore annually on 2 August, which is also the day designated as a memorial day for all terrorist massacres.

The area of the station where the bomb detonated has been reconstructed but the flooring has been left unrestored and a deep crack in the main wall has been left as a memorial to the attack. A station clock is also set at 10:25, the exact time of the explosion.

List of victims and their age

  • Antonella Ceci, 19
  • Angela Marino, 23
  • Leo Luca Marino, 24
  • Domenica Marino, 26
  • Errica Frigerio, 57
  • Vito Diomede Fresa, 62
  • Cesare Francesco Diomede Fresa, 14
  • Anna Maria Bosio, 28
  • Carlo Mauri, 32
  • Luca Mauri, 6
  • Eckhardt Mader, 14
  • Margret Rohrs, 39
  • Kai Mader, 8
  • Sonia Burri, 7
  • Patrizia Messineo, 18
  • Silvana Serravalli, 34
  • Manuela Gallon, 11
  • Natalia Agostini, 40
  • Marina Antonella Trolese, 16
  • Anna Maria Salvagnini, 51
  • Roberto De Marchi, 21
  • Elisabetta Manea , 60
  • Eleonora Geraci, 46
  • Vittorio Vaccaro, 24
  • Velia Carli, 50
  • Salvatore Lauro, 57
  • Paolo Zecchi, 23
  • Viviana Bugamelli, 23
  • Catherine Helen Mitchell, 22
  • John Andrew Kolpinski, 22
  • Angela Fresu, 3
  • Maria Fresu, 24
  • Loredana Molina, 44
  • Angelica Tarsi, 72
  • Katia Bertasi, 34
  • Mirella Fornasari, 36
  • Euridia Bergianti, 49
  • Nilla Natali, 25
  • Franca Dall'Olio, 20
  • Rita Verde, 23
  • Flavia Casadei, 18
  • Giuseppe Patruno, 18
  • Rossella Marceddu, 19
  • Davide Caprioli, 20
  • Vito Ales, 20
  • Iwao Sekiguchi, 20
  • Brigitte Drouhard, 21
  • Roberto Procelli, 21
  • Mauro Alganon, 22
  • Maria Angela Marangon, 22
  • Verdiana Bivona, 22
  • Francisco Gómez Martínez, 23
  • Mauro Di Vittorio, 24
  • Sergio Secci, 24
  • Roberto Gaiola, 25
  • Angelo Priore, 26
  • Onofrio Zappalà, 27
  • Pio Carmine Remollino, 31
  • Gaetano Roda, 31
  • Antonino Di Paola, 32
  • Mirco Castellaro, 33
  • Nazzareno Basso, 33
  • Vincenzo Petteni, 34
  • Salvatore Seminara, 34
  • Carla Gozzi, 36
  • Umberto Lugli, 38
  • Fausto Venturi, 38
  • Argeo Bonora, 42
  • Francesco Betti, 44
  • Mario Sica, 44
  • Pier Francesco Laurenti, 44
  • Paolino Bianchi, 50
  • Vincenzina Sala, 50
  • Berta Ebner, 50
  • Vincenzo Lanconelli, 51
  • Lina Ferretti, 53
  • Romeo Ruozi, 54
  • Amorveno Marzagalli, 54
  • Antonio Francesco Lascala, 56
  • Rosina Barbaro, 58
  • Irene Breton, 61
  • Pietro Galassi, 66
  • Lidia Olla, 67
  • Maria Idria Avati, 80
  • Antonio Montanari, 86

See also


  1. ^ Davies, Peter, Jackson, Paul (2008). The far right in Europe: an encyclopedia. Greenwood World Press, p. 238. ISBN 1846450039
  2. ^ "'95 Percent Sure' Station Blast Was Terror Bomb". Associated Press. 3 August 1980. 
  3. ^ "Police search starts for Bologna bombers". The Globe and Mail. 5 August 1980. 
  4. ^ "Neo-Fascists 'Prefer Massacre'". Reuters. 6 August 1980. 
  5. ^ a b René Monzat, Enquêtes sur la droite extrême, Le Monde-éditions, 1992, p.89
  6. ^ "Bizarre complexities of bombing to unfold in Italian courtroom," St. Petersburg Times, 1 March 1987 (English)
  7. ^ a b "Court issues sentences in Bologna train bombing". United Press International. 11 July 1988. 
  8. ^ "One Of World's Most-Wanted Terrorists Arrested". Associated Press. 30 March 1987. 
  9. ^ "Four Convicted Of Mass Murder In Italian Bombing That Killed 85". Associated Press. 11 July 1988. 
  10. ^ "Appeals Court Throws Out Bologna Bombing Convictions". Associated Press. 19 July 1990. 
  11. ^ "Second Appeals Trial Begins for Train Station Bombing". Associated Press. 11 October 1993. 
  12. ^ Anne Hanley, "Bologna bomber slips back into society," The Independent, 16 April 1998 on-line (English)
  13. ^ Fo, Dario; Jennifer Lorch (1997). Morte accidentale di un anarchico. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719038480. 
  14. ^ "Bologna bomber's 30-year jail term confirmed". Associated Press. 11 April 2007. 
  15. ^ Strage di Bologna, 30 anni a Ciavardini — Cassazione conferma la condanna all'ex Nar, La Repubblica, 11 April 2007 (Italian)
  16. ^ a b Arrestato l'estremista nero Ciavardini per una rapina a mano armata, La Repubblica, 10 October 2006 (Italian)
  17. ^ Denuncian que Almirón también participó en la ultraderecha española, Telam Argentine news agency, 6 January 2007 (Spanish)
  18. ^ Our World: The convenient war against the Jews, Jerusalem Post, 6 October 2008
  19. ^, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Further reading

  • La strage. L’atto d’accusa dei giudici di Bologna, dir. Giuseppe de Lutiis, Editori Riuniti, Rome, 1986
  • "NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe", Daniele Ganser, Routledge, 2004.

External links

Coordinates: 44°30′22″N 11°20′32″E / 44.50611°N 11.34222°E / 44.50611; 11.34222

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