According to sources, the letter was delivered to the French embassy at Palazzo Farnese, the heart of Rome's historical centre, on Wednesday afternoon, a local news portal reported.

It was opened by an employee who was sorting the embassy's mail. When she opened it the envelope burst into flames, as reported. "I saw the flame and I immediately thought it was a bomb," the employee said, adding "I threw the envelope and ran away. I was lucky the sparks didn't hurt my eyes or hands."

The alarm was raised and the whole building was then evacuated. There was no message inside the envelope, the sources added. Embassy staff have been ordered not to touch any more letters in case there are more letter bombs.


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