From Our Rome Correspondent The invective recently directed at Italy The Italian contention is that in these by the British Press following reports of reprisals on the native population after the attempt on the life of Marshal Graziani, Viceroy of Abyssinia, cannot be allowed to pass without putting forward the Italian side of the case.
There is every reason to believe the contention that the incident was not the reaction of a suppressed population but of a desperate minority, the remains of the army who were known to be hiding in the vicinity of Addis Ababa and planning a terrorist policy.
Bearing this out arc three important points. First, Marshal Graziani appears to have been popular with the natives and to have mingled with them freely. I have seen a photograph of the Viceroy heading a war dance followed by natives waving swords at uncomfortably close quarters and quite clearly sharing his amusement.
A Friendly Meeting
The second point is that the incident occurred during a distribution of gifts to the poor and to the churches.
Thirdly, it is clear that the bombs were aimed not only at Graziani but at the Ethiopians surrounding him.
A succession of hand-grenades, ten in all, were flung from different parts of the crowd at the group of Italian and Ethiopian
authorities. When Graziani, Liotta, the Abuna, and others. fell to the ground wounded. and several natives were killed, the soldiers put their machine-guns on the ground and tired into those parts of the crowd from which the bombs were coming.
After that, a house-to-house search of the whole city was conducted. All those found guilty under the law in possession of firearms were shot instantly (figures, as given officially: 2,000 arrested, 300 shot, 700 released).
No " reprisals," according to my information, were intended or executed. The first reaction—the machine-gun fire—was horrible and discreditable, but explicable in the face of what had all the appearance of a general revolt rather than a single assassination.
The second reaction—the house-to-house search—was the only possible precaution against an armed minority in the city working in conjunction with bands of marauders still latent in the surrounding hills.
cases swift initial violence is better than long drawn-out sanguinary bickering—a policy that certainly succeeded in Lybia where the English Press is alarmed not now about the ruthless suppression of the Moslems but about their over-friendly attitude to Italy.