The Bologna massacre (Strage di Bologna) was a terrorist bombing at the Central Station of Bologna, Italy on the morning of August 2, 1980, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. Blame for the attacks was placed on the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, while two — and one former — members of the Italian military intelligence agency (SISMI) and Licio Gelli were charged with investigative diversion.
At 10:25 am, a timed improvised explosive device (IED) contained in an unattended suitcase detonated inside a popular air-conditioned waiting room. The IED was made of a "Compound B", also known as Composition B. The explosion destroyed most of the main building and hit the Ancona–Chiasso train that was waiting at the first platform. The blast was heard for miles. The roof of the waiting room collapsed onto the passengers, which greatly increased the total number killed in the terrorist attack.
On that summer Saturday the station was full of tourists and the city was unprepared for such a massive incident. There were not enough ambulances, so buses and taxis were used to transport the injured to hospitals.
The next day, police investigators found metal fragments and scraps of plastics near the source of the explosion. The Italian Government led by Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga first assumed the explosion to have been caused by an accident, but within a short time the NAR were made responsible for the terrorist attack. Later, in a special session to the Senate, Cossiga supported the theory that neofascists were behind the attack, "unlike leftist terrorism, which strikes at the heart of the state through its representatives, black terrorism prefers the massacre because it promotes panic and impulsive reactions.
A long, troubled and controversial court case and political issue ensued. The relatives of the victims formed an association (Associazione dei familiari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980) to raise and maintain civil awareness about the case.
General Pietro Musumeci, n°2 of the SISMI and revealed in 1981 to be a member of Propaganda Due (P2), was charged of having created falsified evidence to charge Roberto Fiore and Gabriele Andinolfi, two leaders of Terza Posizione who had fled in exile to London, of the bombing . Both Terza Posizione leaders claimed that Musumeci was trying to divert attention from Licio Gelli, head of P2 .
A trial involving 20 suspects was initiated in 1987 .
In July 1988, four neo-fascists received life terms for the bombing: Valerio Fioravanti (23 at the time of the blast), his wife Francesca Mambro (born in 1960), Massimiliano Fachini and Sergio Picciafuoco. They also received sentences for belonging to an armed group, as well as Paolo Signorelli and Roberto Rinani, who were absolved of the charge for carrying out the attack. Licio Gelli, leader of the masonic P2 lodge, as well as three others, Francesco Pazienza, Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte, received sentences for slandering the investigation. Stefano Delle Chiaie, who was arrested in and extradited from Venezuela a year earlier, was absolved from the charge of subversive association.
Two years later, in July 1990, an appeals court cancelled the convictions of the defendants Valerio Fioravanti; his wife, Francesca Mambro; Massimiliano Fachini; and Sergio Picciafuoco, as well as the slander convictions of Gelli and Pazienza. A retrial was ordered in October 1993.
To date those responsible for the attack and their political motives remain unknown. Some suspected that the Operation Gladio network had been at least partially involved.
Following the 2006 arrest of former Argentine Triple A member Rodolfo Almirón, Spanish lawyer José Angel Pérez Nievas declared that it was "probable that Almirón participated — along with Stefano Delle Chiaie and Augusto Canchi — in the 1980 bombing in Bologna's train station." But the Argentine Supreme Court refused in 1998 to extradite Canchi to Italy .
2 August is designated in Italy as a memorial day for all terrorist massacres. The municipality of Bologna together with the Associazione tra i famigliari delle vittime della strage alla stazione di Bologna del 2 agosto 1980 organize every year an international composing competition that ends with a concert in the town's main square, Piazza Maggiore.
The area of the station where the bomb detonated has been reconstructed, but, as a memorial to the attack, the flooring has been kept in the same condition, and a deep crack in the main wall has been left as is. Moreover, the station main clock is forever stopped at 10:25, the exact time of the explosion.