Thu May 11, 2017 10:15AM
Police investigate the scene of a suspected arson attack in the Centocelle district, where three Roma sisters were burnt alive, May 10, 2017.
Police investigate the scene of a suspected arson attack in the Centocelle district, where three Roma sisters were burnt alive, May 10, 2017.
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Anti-fascism groups in Italy have held a vigil in the country’s capital of Rome after the burning to death of three sisters from an ethnic minority in a suspected arson attack.

The vigil was held by laying flowers in the Centocelle district of Rome on Wednesday after three sisters from the Roma community, including two children and a young woman, lost their lives in a fire in their camper van.

The victims, aged four, eight, and 20, were sleeping with their parents and eight other siblings when their van went up in flames. Other family members reportedly managed to escape the blaze.

Investigators launched a homicide probe after traces of flammable liquid were found outside the vehicle. Sources said that surveillance footage had shown a man throwing a bottle at the vehicle before fire erupted.

It was not immediately clear if it was a xenophobic act or motivated by a personal dispute.

However, a Roma community member said, “This is a Nazi crime, because only a Nazi can think of burning people alive, because he doesn’t think of them as people.”

Describing the deadly incident as a “horrendous crime,” Italian President Sergio Mattarella said, “The culprits must be found and severely punished.”

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi also visited the site of the blaze and asked for a moment of silence.

There are around 170,000 Roma people living in Italy, and intolerance toward them is mostly fueled by inflammatory comments by politicians who label them as crooks.