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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 10:38 GMT
Driver dies in Italian car blast
Italian police guard blast site
Police officers had tried to help the man
A car is reported to have exploded near a synagogue in the northern Italian city of Modena, killing the driver.

The driver, thought to be Jordanian, caused the blast by setting himself on fire, according to police.

The car, parked in a side street near the synagogue, is believed to have been fuelled by liquid propane gas.

Police said the incident, at about 0500GMT, appeared to have been a suicide rather than a terrorist attack, but investigations were continuing.

It was not yet clear if there were any other casualties as a result of the explosion, but windows in nearby buildings were damaged in the blast.

Petty crime

The BBC's Frances Kennedy, in Rome, said police officers had approached the car when they saw the man inside holding a lighter, who appeared to be ready to set himself alight.

She said they broke the car windows and tried to help him but then fled for fear that the vehicle might explode.

Several minutes later the car blew up.

Police say the victim was a 69-year-old man born in Kuwait but with Jordanian nationality.

He is said to have been living in Italy for some years, had a regular residence permit and a record of petty crime.



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