Pickaxe attacker kills one, injures four others in Milan

ROME Sat May 11, 2013 11:58am EDT

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ROME (Reuters) - A Ghanaian immigrant in the northern Italian city of Milan killed one man and injured four others in a frenzied and apparently random attack with a pickaxe on Saturday, police said.

Witnesses told SkyTG24 television that the man, who Italian media reports said was in Italy illegally, struck out at passersby in a residential district of the city early on Saturday morning.

A 40-year-old unemployed man apparently on his way to a cafe died after being struck on the head and falling to the ground where the attacker continued to hit him.

Two people were seriously hurt in the attack, which broke the handle of the pickaxe, while the other two injured were less badly hurt. Television pictures showed large patches of blood on the ground.

Italian news agency AGI said the man's first words to police were "I am hungry" in English.

The mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, issued a statement expressing shock at the "mad act".

The attack also fed political controversy after a member of the pro-devolution Northern League party linked the attack to calls by Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, Italy's first black minister, to scrap laws against illegal immigration passed by the government of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"The illegal immigrants the colored minister wants to regularize, kill people with pickaxes," local party official Matteo Salvini told Italian news agencies. "Cecile Kyenge risks instigating violence by saying illegal immigration is not an offence," he told the AGI agency.

The comment was denounced as "indecent and inhumane" in a statement by Franco Mirabelli, a senator from the center-left Democratic Party.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Alison Williams)

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