Former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi says Italians on Monday condemned the attacks in the central Italian town of Macerata.
Authorities say a lone gunman targeted foreigners in a series of drive-by shootings in a central Italian city, wounding six people, before being arrested.
Italy’s interior minister Marco Minniti said the gunman had been motivated “by racial hatred” and had “a background of right-wing extremism with clear references to fascism and Nazism”.
The shootings came days after the murder in Macerata of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro, whose dismembered remains were found on Wednesday in two suitcases.
Berlusconi said: Italians are “not racist’’ but their security is threatened by uncontrolled migration.
Migration is dominating public debate following the arrest on Saturday of a neo-Fascist man who injured six migrants in drive-by shootings fuelled by xenophobia.
“There is very widespread social anxiety stemming from the presence in Italy of huge numbers of irregular migrants,’’ Berlusconi told RAI state television, as publicised on his Twitter account.
He also said that there was “nothing political’’ about Saturday’s attacks in the central Italian town of Macerata, blaming them on an “insane’’ person.
Berlusconi heads a conservative bloc which is leading in the polls ahead of the March 4 general elections as surveys indicate that migration is among top voters’ concerns.
He told Mediaset, his family’s media company, that Italy has “at least 630,000 irregulars” who are “a real social bomb ready to explode, because these migrants live off expedients and crimes.”
Berlusconi and his far-right ally, Matteo Salvini, are calling for repatriations of all undocumented migrants, but there are doubts about the cost and feasibility of such a plan.
Italy is the main landing point for Europe-bound sea migrants, while it has registered over 450,000 arrivals in 2015 to 2017, and no less than 40 per cent were granted some form of asylum protection.
In 2017, arrivals fell by more than a third year-on-year, thanks to migration-stemming deals with Libya, which, however, failed to quell public concern about immigration.