Leftist guerrillas kidnapped one of Italy's most senior politicians in Rome on Thursday (16 March) in a bloody ambush, which plunged the country into one of its worst crises for years.
Leftist guerrillas kidnapped one of Italy's most senior politicians in Rome on Thursday (16 March) in a bloody ambush, which plunged the country into one of its worst crises for years. Signor Aldo Moro, five times Prime Minister and expected to be the country's next president, was abducted in an attack in which five police guards were all shot dead. It was not known immediately whether the Christian Democratic leader was injured in the shooting, but police sources said a ballistics expert at the scene believed Signor Moro might have been hit.
SYNOPSIS: The attack was carried out by 12 guerrillas, one of them a woman, in a lightning operation at a street crossing near Signor Moro's home. The Red Brigades guerrilla group, whose leaders are now on trial in Turin, claimed responsibility for the attack, and said it was only the start of a campaign "to hit the heart of the state". Thousands of police immediately began a massive search for the kidnappers, who had blocked Signor Moro's car as he drove to work after praying at a local church.
The attack was timed to coincide with Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti's appearance in parliament to present the programme of his newly-formed government. Signor Moro was the architect of the new government...the first for 30 years to be formally backed by the communist party. Among those to denounce the kidnapping was Communist party leader Enrico Berlinguer, who praised Signor Moro as "one of the most eminent personalities in Italian political life".
In a brief communique, the guerrillas demanded that the trial of the Brigade's leader, Rena to Curcio, and 14 others, be suspended.
In Milan, as in other Italian cities, many shops were closed, as workers joined in demonstrations of protest against the abduction. Major trade unions called on workers to stage a 24-hour strike to show solidarity with the authorities. Messages of sympathy poured in from world leaders. President Carter described the kidnapping as a "senseless terrorist attack", and President Giscard d'Estaing of France expressed the sympathy of the French people against "this act of terrorism".
Signor Moro, seen here with Italian President Giovanni Leone, is 61. He has been at the centre of the political stage for 30 years. A married man with four children, Signor Moro is something of an introverted politician, but his patience and tenacity have disarmed many of his adversaries.