A cold-blooded execution in broad daylight in a busy Rome street - the sixth in a month - has confirmed fears the Italian capital is facing a vicious gang turf war.

The Magliana gang appears to be at the centre of the violence after it was revealed that the dead man, Flavio Simmi, 33, had links to the group. He was shot nine times in the Prati district by an assailant on a scooter as he got out of his car to examine a burst tyre.

The Magliana gang was behind the murder in 1983 of the daughter of a Vatican official. Her body was thrown into a cement mixer.

Experts writing in Italian newspapers suggested the upsurge in violence was due to younger elements in the gang fighting over the drug trade, or possibly because of conflict between the gang and members of southern mafia groups which have a strong presence in the city.

- INDEPENDENT