The murder of an immigrant bar owner and his baby daughter during a botched robbery has shocked Rome, prompting warnings that the city is turning into a "Wild West" of violent crime, awash with drugs and firearms.
Zeng Zhou (31) and his daughter, Joy, were killed by the same bullet when a robber opened fire after the bar owner refused to hand over the day's takings.
The bullet passed through the nine-month-old girl's head and struck her father in the heart, killing them instantly.
The bar owner's 27-year-old wife, Zeng Lia, was stabbed in the attack in the capital's grimy Tor Pignattara district. She is being treated in hospital. She told police that one of the two robbers had yelled: "I'll kill you like a dog" at her husband when he refused to hand over thousands of euros in cash.
The double murder was the 36th killing in the city in the past 12 months. There were 25 in Rome in 2010.
The killings were "an offence to the Eternal City" and risked turning the Italian capital into "an immense favela where shootouts happen as they did in the Wild West," said 'La Stampa' newspaper. "In one year, Rome seems to have spun out of control."
The violence has spread from the graffiti-clad sink estates on the outskirts of the city to the tourist-friendly piazzas and cobbled streets of the centre. Last year there were two murders and seven kneecappings in Prati, one of the city's upmarket areas, not far from the Vatican.
Many of the killings have been well organised hits carried out in broad daylight.
Authorities are to deploy an extra 400 armed police by the end of this month to try to stem the crime wave. (© The Daily Telegraph London)