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Experts defuse WWII bomb in northern Italian city

MILAN — Italian authorities evacuated 4,000 people from the center of the northern city of Bolzano on Sunday to defuse a World War II bomb found during construction.

Three experts defused the 500-pound American bomb during a three-hour operation that also forced 60,000 people to stay in their homes and closed sporting complexes and churches, the news agency ANSA reported.

An alarm signaled the all-clear to reopen the city center just before noon, as well as a nearby north-south highway and rail line both connecting Italy with Austria and Germany.

The bomb was found close to the city’s central cathedral and not far from the train station — the likely wartime target — during excavation work for a new shopping center.

The online news site Neue Suedtiroler Tageszeitung said after being defused, the bomb was brought to a secure site nearby for a controlled explosion.

According to historian Ettore Frangipane, Bolzano, in the northern Alto-Adige region bordering Austria, suffered 13 major World War II bombing raids that damaged 60% of the city and killed 200 people.

Alto Adige was part of a broad swath of northern Italy that remained under Nazi occupation long after Italy’s 1943 surrender to the Allies.

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