By NICOLE WINFIELD
2010-02-26 10:48 PM
The premier identified the slain diplomat as Pietro Antonio Colazzo.
Kabul Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahman told reporters in the Afghan capital that Colazzo died a hero, phoning in tips to police about where the suicide bombers were located in a hotel frequented by foreigners.
"He was killed by the terrorists who realized that he was passing information to police forces," Rahman said. "He was in a room right behind the attackers and he could see where they were and what they are doing."
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks targeting hotels and killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens in the heart of Kabul.
The Foreign Ministry refused to comment on Rahman's report.
In a statement, Berlusconi said he "learned with sadness the news of the death of the diplomatic adviser Pietro Antonio Colazzo in today's attack in Kabul. A faithful servant of the state, who died doing his job in a country tormented by horrific terrorist acts."
Berlusconi said Italy was committed to protecting Afghanistan from such violence.
The Italian news agency ANSA said Colazzo was the No. 2 member of Italy's foreign intelligence agency, AISE, in Kabul and had been in the country for about two years.
Top Italian officials praised Colazzo for his service, with parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini lauding his "courage, professionalism and spirit of sacrifice" and that of all the Italians working in Afghanistan.
Italy has some 3,150 troops in Afghanistan. Since the conflict began, 22 Italians have been killed, including six killed last Sept. 17 in a roadside bombing in Italy's deadliest day yet in the conflict.
Friday's death sparked anew calls from Berlusconi's political opponents for an exit strategy for Italian troops.