After the death of six Italian paratroopers in a suicide car bombing in Kabul on 17 September, the Italian government is divided over calls for an early withdrawal from Afghanistan. Umberto Bossi, long-standing leader of the right-wing Lega Nord (LN, Northern League), lost no time in surfing the groundswell of public sentiment: according to poll results released prior to the attack, the majority of Italians (51%) are in favour of bringing the troops back home by Christmas. Bossi’s exhortations to that effect have incurred the ire of defence minister Ignazio La Russa (PDL, “People of Freedom” party), who cannot stomach the government’s alliance with the North League as it is and firmly supports Italy’s participation in ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), reports La Repubblica. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed Italy’s commitment to the Afghanistan campaign, albeit proposing to downscale the Italian contingent by the end of the year. Observes Roberto Saviano in La Repubblica, “Most of the 20 soldiers who have fallen in Afghanistan are from the south of Italy: they are southerners or sons of southerners, recruited in their own region or other regions. Today we bear witness to the umpteenth ‘blood tribute’ paid by the southern regions, the poorest in Italy, for the entire nation.”