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Italian cabinet inauguration overshadowed by shooting

Italy's new cabinet headed by Prime Minister Enrico Letta has been sworn in. The ceremony was overshadowed by a shooting incident near the premier's office. The gunman wounded two policemen.

Police said the shooter on Chigi Square was an unemployed man from Italy's southern region of Calabria.

Deputy Rome prosecutor Pierfilippo Laviani said the assailant, who was then wrestled to the ground by other policemen, had intended to "strike politicians," but shot at police officers instead.

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Shooting as Italian government sworn in

Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno said the incident was "not an act of terrorism but certainly the climate of the past few months has not helped."

One of the Carabinieri officers was wounded in the neck. About 10 bullets littered the square.

The cabinet inauguration took place in the presidential palace one kilometer away. Cabinet members were kept briefly inside until it was clear that the danger had passed, said an aide to Italy's new Foreign Minister Emma Bonino.

On Monday, Letta is due to lay out his strategy to parliament, before required confidence votes from the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Two months of stalemate ended

On Saturday, Letta, 46 and the moderate deputy head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), had ended two months of political stalemate - prompted by an inconclusive general election in February - by bringing together former rivals in a coalition government.

Letta's ministers stepped forward one by one on Sunday to swear allegiance to the republic before President Giorgio Napolitano, who had personally picked the prime minister last Wednesday.

Letta is deputy leader of the PD, which has opposed former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his center-right People of Freedom party for the past 20 years. He is also on the right of his party and the nephew of one of Berlusconi's closest aides, Gianni Letta.

On Saturday, the prime minister had spent over two hours in talks with Berlusconi to forge a new government alliance.

Letta then appeared with President Giorgio Napolitano at the presidential Quirinal Palace to announce he had won the support of other parties to form a coalition government. It will include one of Berlusconi's closest allies as deputy prime minister.

The new Italian government is composed of 21 ministers hailing from Prime Minister Enrico Letta's PD, Berlusconi's People of Freedom, and Mario Monti's centrist Civic Choice. The Cabinet also features several nonaligned members, seven women, the first black minister in Italian history and an average age of 53 - significantly younger than previous administrations.

mkg/ipj (Reuters, dpa)

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