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Shots fired at Benigni performance

August 30, 2007|From the Associated Press

ROBERTO Benigni was reciting a page from Dante's poem on the afterlife when he thought hell had come to Earth.

Shots rang out Tuesday night as the Oscar-winning actor-director was performing in a piazza in the southern Italian city of Cosenza, police said.

Upon hearing the gunfire, Benigni said: "What, is hell here, too?" but then resumed his performance, the news agency ANSA said.

Police said a security guard had stopped a man who was trying to get into the show without a ticket. The man then pulled out a gun and fired six shots, five of which hit the security guard in the legs, local police spokesman Angelo Cosentino said Wednesday.

The guard was hospitalized but the injuries weren't considered life-threatening, police said. A suspect, a 45-year-old man with a police record for minor crimes, was arrested for attempted murder.

Benigni said he was sorry about the incident but also thought it was poetic.

"The poetic greatness is that he did that just to hear Dante," ANSA quoted Benigni as saying Wednesday. "I'm sorry, and I feel for the kid's family, but he did it for poetry, and that's a great thing."

Benigni, 54, a Tuscany-born comic, is best known for directing "Life Is Beautiful," which won the best foreign film Oscar in 1999 and earned him the award for best actor.

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