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Two women stoned to death on W. Africa resort island


ROME, Italy (AP) -- Two Italian women were killed in a brutal attack on a Cape Verde resort island, and one of them might have been alive when she was buried by her killers, an Italian official said Sunday.

Because some dirt was found in her lungs, "it is presumed that perhaps Dalia could have been still alive when she was buried" after the attack Thursday night, Italy's honorary consul in Cape Verde, Luigi Zirpoli, told Sky TG24 TV.

The consul said rocks and sticks were used in the attack.

Zirpoli was referring to the autopsy on one of the victims, identified in Italian news reports as 33-year-old Dalia Saiani from northern Italy. The other victim, a 28-year-old, and a 17-year-old survivor, were part of a group of Italians on a windsurfing vacation in Cape Verde, an archipelago off Africa's west coast.

Zirpoli said in a phone interview that two local men had confessed to the killings while a third man had been released on bail because he apparently was not involved in the crime. The other two "called him to [help] bury [the victims] but when he realized what they were doing, he refused," Zirpoli said.

The official said one of the attackers was jealous about Saiani. He wanted to inflict "a heavy lesson because she refused" to resume a relationship they had some years ago, Zirpoli said.

It appeared from the initial autopsy results that the victims were not sexually assaulted, Zirpoli said.

First reports said the killers had dug a hole in the dirt near a wooded area near a beach to bury the women, but Zirpoli said the hole was already there.

A friend of the victims, a 17-year-old Italian, tried to send a text message from her cell phone for help when she saw her companions being attacked, Zirpoli said. When the attackers realized this, they "hit her twice in the head with a very big stone. She fainted and fell to the ground, he said.

When the survivor regained consciousness, "she ran away and remained hidden until dawn [Friday], when she sought help at the nearest hotel," the consul said.

An Italian man who was among those who went to the scene to help said he saw one of the woman's hands sticking out of the dirt.

"It was like a horror film," the man told Italian TV.

The story of the attack has shocked Italians, many of whom consider the archipelago a paradise for beachgoers and windsurfers.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said the two women had been "barbarously murdered" and dispatched a diplomat from its embassy in Senegal "to ensure that those responsible for this tragic aggression are brought swiftly to justice."

Italian Premier Romano Prodi said he was "stunned" and "aghast" by the killings, the Italian news agency Apcom reported.

Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony, is located about 500 miles to the west of Senegal's capital, Dakar, in the Atlantic Ocean.

Entry #908


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