REGGIO CALABRIA, Italy -- Southern Calabria's reputation as Italy's deadliest corner was reinforced Sunday as police reported four Mafia-style killings within 12 hours.
The gunshot slayings in and around Reggio Calabria, capital of a Calabrian province by the same name, were believed related to feuds in the 'Ndrangheta organized crime milieu.
They brought to 49 the number of murders so far this year in Italy's southernmost mainland province. The bloodshed in Reggio has stirred increasing concern about the government's ability to maintain order in the province.
The latest round of killing began Saturday night when Giuseppe Arecchi, 27, owner of a Reggio flower shop, was killed by a shotgun blast moments after he got into his car.
Reputed 'Ndrangheta clan member Romeo Marvaso, 38, died Sunday morning at his home in Cittanova, north of Reggio, after he was hit in the head by a sniper's bullet.
A third victim, Vincenzo Calabro, 30, was found shot to death in the countryside, police said. At 10 a.m. gunmen opened fire on and killed Annunziato Rizzo, 51, an area farmer.
Less well known than the Sicilian Mafia or the Neapolitan Camorra, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta nonetheless has a reputation as a ruthless element quick to kill.
Its internal vendettas have been known to run for years. Police sources said the feud in which Marvaso was believed slain began in 1971 and had claimed 73 lives at last count.
A Reggio court recently found Marvaso innocent in the death of a 23-year-old university student, but found his brother, Cesare, guilty and sentenced him to 30 years. Two other Marvaso brothers died in 1975 'Ndrangheta killings.