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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Six Italians shot dead in Germany
Police in Duisburg remove one of the victims of the shootings
The identities of the victims have not yet been revealed
Six Italian men have been shot dead near a train station in Duisburg, western Germany - an attack reports say could be linked to a criminal feud.

Five bodies were found in two cars outside an Italian restaurant, while a sixth man died on the way to hospital.

A German police spokesman said the victims, aged between 16 and 39, had all been shot in the head.

All six were linked to a clan involved in a long-running and deadly feud in Italy's Calabria region, police said.

The dispute is known as the San Luca feud after the village where it began back in 1991.

This feud marks a second chapter outside the territory where these clans usually operate - this time even outside our national borders
Marco Minniti
Italian Deputy Interior Minister

Police sources said all six men were linked to the notoriously violent Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta crime group.

Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said one of the victims was thought to be one of those originally involved in the San Luca dispute.

"This man probably feared that something could have happened to him, as it is reported he was looking for guns to protect himself before the shooting happened," he said.

"It is very likely that he was caught by those who were seeking revenge against him, before the police got to him."

Reports say the man who was taken to hospital did not say anything before he died.

Police appeal

The bodies were found at about 0230 (0030 GMT).

Police spokesman Reinhard Pape said officers had been alerted at 0200 after a woman passer-by heard gunshots and stopped a police patrol car that happened to be in the area.

"Honoured Society", based in Calabria region of south Italy
Origins thought to date back to shortly after Italian unification in 1861
Group grew as reaction to richer class from north
Operates clan-based power structure based on blood families
Accused of cocaine and weapons smuggling
Estimated to have made 16m euros (10.8m) profits in 2002

About 30 minutes later, police officers found four bodies in a car parked near an Italian restaurant about 100m from the city's station.

The other two victims were found in a small van nearby. Witnesses said they saw two people in the area at the time.

The killings are a shocking development in the relatively peaceful city of Duisburg, where shootings are rare, says the BBC's Tristana Moore, in Berlin.

Italy's Deputy Interior Minister, Marco Minniti, said the apparent score-settling in a foreign country was "unprecedented" and "an element of great concern".

"This feud marks a second chapter outside the territory where these clans usually operate - this time even outside our national borders," he told a news conference in Rome.

"The chief of Italian police has already decided to send Italian investigators to Germany to co-operate with the German authorities on this massacre."

Police are examining surveillance video from the railway station, and are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

They stress that all lines of inquiry remain open.

Italian Interior minister says murders part of feud

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