Italians Report Right-Wing Terrorist Bombs in Rome and Milan

Edward Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly


Italy: Two bomb incidents in Rome and Milan may signal the start of a new outbreak of terrorism, officials said. On Dec. 22, a bomb exploded in the offices of a Communist newspaper in Rome, seriously injuring a right-wing extremist suspected of planting the device. Four days earlier, police defused a bomb on the roof of Milan’s cathedral hours before it was set to explode. An anarchist group claimed to have set the bomb, and police stepped up security for Milan’s churches. Italy was rocked by political violence from both right and left in the 1970s and 1980s, and the country’s interior minister has warned Parliament of the possible resurgence of various forms of terrorism, particularly with national elections scheduled for next spring.

Yugoslavia: With the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, the United States has reestablished diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia and once again refers to it by that name rather than those of its components, Serbia and Montenegro. By any name, however, the place is not considered friendly ground for American travelers, and a fresh State Department travel warning contains these points:

* Although officials in Montenegro have declared visas unnecessary for Americans, the Yugoslav federal government has requested that Americans obtain Yugoslav visas for travel to Montenegro. The State Department “strongly advises” travelers to comply.


* In the Kosovo region of Serbia, incidents of violence continue to be reported.

* In Serbia, the “potential for hostility toward U.S. citizens still exists” as a result of last year’s fighting with NATO forces. Other problems include damaged infrastructure and unexploded bombs.


Turkey: Because of fears of terrorist attacks, Washington has closed two U.S. consulates in Turkey, in Istanbul and the southern city of Adana. The precautions are related to a State Department announcement of Oct. 18, still in effect, that warned of the possibility of terrorism directed against Americans in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and Turkey. The consulate in Istanbul has long been considered hard to protect, and Washington is planning to build a new facility on the city’s outskirts. Adana is near the U.S. air base at Incirlik, which went on alert status in October after the terrorist bombing of the Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer, in a Yemeni port.


Latin America

Mexico: Popocatepetl Volcano, about 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, has been ominously active in recent weeks, interrupting its long slumber to spew fiery mixtures of rock and ash. Nearby villagers were temporarily evacuated, and Mexico City may be subject to heavy falling ash. The State Department advises American travelers in the region, especially those with respiratory problems, to monitor news reports and avoid the vicinity of “Popo.” Other incidents of note to travelers:

* A 26-year-old woman from Cleveland was accosted outside an Acapulco discotheque earlier this month by five members of a teen-age gang who beat and robbed her. The disco is in the Port Marques area, which tourism officials say is becoming a no man’s land because of attacks on visitors.

* After a pledge by new Mexican President Vicente Fox to stop the “arbitrary” expulsion of foreigners, immigration officials said they will allow a San Diego schoolteacher and political activist to return to Mexico as a tourist, more than two years after he was expelled for his alleged involvement with leftist Zapatista rebels in Chiapas state.


Briefly . . .

Jamaica: Gunmen took over a minibus with seven American visitors en route from the Kingston airport to a relative’s funeral earlier this month, diverted them to a poor neighborhood and robbed them of cash, jewelry and other possessions. Four days later, police announced the stationing of 24-hour patrols on the main routes from the airport to the capital through the holidays. . . . The State Department has extended until March 11 its caution on Fiji, where a national state of emergency remains in effect. Visitors are advised to be aware of their personal security, especially in and around Suva, the capital. Major tourist areas, however, are described as calm. . . . The State Department has rescinded its Oct. 27 full-blown travel warning on Ivory Coast, and U.S. government dependents are returning to the West African nation. But a strongly worded announcement from the State Department, effective until Feb. 23, still urges Americans to defer nonessential travel there and advises that in the country’s transition from military rule to democracy, “political and ethnic tensions make the security situation difficult to predict.”

Hot spots: The State Department has dropped the Central African Republic and Ethiopia from its list of places considered risky for Americans. Remaining on the travel warning list are Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Congo (formerly Zaire), Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225. Internet address is