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As politicians sworn in, police shot in Rome

Police officers arrested Luigi Preiti following a shooting outside Palazzo Chigi in Rome.

Massimo Percossi/EPA

Police officers arrested Luigi Preiti following a shooting outside Palazzo Chigi in Rome.

ROME — In the very ­moments Italy’s new coalition government was being sworn in, ending months of political paralysis in a country hoping to revive a bleak economy, a ­middle-aged unemployed bricklayer opened fire Sunday in the square outside the prime minister’s office, seriously wounding two police officers, authorities said.

The alleged gunman from Calabria, a southern region plagued by joblessness and organized crime, told investigators he wanted to shoot politicians. But finding none in the square, he instead shot at Carabinieri, paramilitary police.

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A bullet pierced one of the officers in the neck, passing through his spinal column, doctors said, adding it wasn’t known if the 50-year-old officer would have any paralysis. The other officer was shot in the leg and had a fracture.

The newly sworn-in interior minister, Angelino Alfano, said a preliminary investigation indicated the shooting, which also slightly injured a pregnant bystander, amounted to a ‘‘tragic criminal gesture of a 49-year-old unemployed’’ man.

But the shooting was also a violent expression of social tensions in Italy, where unemployment is soaring, an increasing number of businesses are shutting their doors permanently, and new political corruption scandals make headlines nearly every day. Politicians described the attack as a disturbing call to fix Italy’s economy.

‘‘From what we understand, it’s mainly personal problems, work, personal debts’’ that fueled the gunman’s attack, said Guglielmo Epifani, a top official in Premier Enrico Letta’s center-left Democratic Party.

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