On November 12, 2003, the military facility “Maestrale” Nassiriya, one of the premises of the Italian peacekeeping operation in Iraq, became the target of a suicide bombing. At about 10.40 a.m. (local time), a tank truck rushed into the basis, breaking through the barriers, and exploded. 19 Italian citizens lost their lives: among them there were 2 civilians, 12 members of the Carabinieri Corps and 5 soldiers of the Italian army. Moreover, 9 Iraqis were killed, including the two attackers, while several other people were wounded. It was the worst attack suffered by the Italian armed forces since the end of World War II.
The attackers were linked to Al Qaeda, that claimed responsibility of the attack a few days later: among the planners, there was the head of the organization in Iraq himself, Al Zarqawi.
The public funerals took place in Rome 5 days after the attack, in the presence of State officials and a large crowd that showed up to pay their respects to the victims.
Later, an investigation was started to find out whether members of the Carabinieri Corps and the Army could be held responsible for the lack of precautionary measures.
The Italian peacekeeping mission, called “Antica Babilonia”, was undertaken following the intervention in Iraq by the United States and their allies (that accused Saddam Hussein of holding mass destruction weapons and of covering up Al Qaeda) and the subsequent collapse of Hussein’s dictatorship. Italy responded to the call by the UN, that had encouraged the international community to act in favor of the stability and security of the country, in the chaos that had followed the military intervention, with a total of 30.000 military units. The operation ended in 2006.