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Gunman arrested after opening fire on Italian police outside prime minister's office

Officials said the shootings took place around 11am as prime minister Enrico Letta's cabinet was being sworn in at the presidential palace nearby.

An Italian prosecutor said today that politicians were the target of a gunman who shot and wounded two policemen in a crowded square outside the premier's office in Rome.

The attack happened near the Italian prime minister's office as the new government was being sworn in barely half a mile away.

Rome Prosecutor, Pierfilippo Laviani, told reporters he had questioned the alleged assailant, who was taken to a hospital with bruises after being wrestled to the ground.

Laviani says the "desperate" gunman had "lost work, had lost everything." He said the man "wanted to shoot politicians, but given that he couldn't reach any, he shot the Carabinieri" police at the edge of Chigi Square.

Laviani said the man "confessed everything" and didn't appear mentally unbalanced.

A television producer said that he saw the two injured officers, one of them lying on the pavement with blood pouring out of his neck.

Seven bullets lay on the square.

The shooting was described as "the tragic gesture of an unemployed man," by Interior Minister Angelino Alfano who spoke to reporters after briefing Letta and his new Cabinet about the attack.

A woman passing by during the shooting was also slightly injured, Rome's mayor said. It was unclear if she was grazed by a bullet or hurt in the panic sparked by the gunfire

The new Cabinet ministers were seen smiling in a group photo as news of the shooting broke and it was apparent they weren't immediately aware of the attack.

"The news arrived after the swearing-in," said Dario Franceschini, one of the new ministers. "Premier Letta is following the situation."

Online Editors