(ANSA) - Rome, January 24 - The number of women murdered in Italy surged last year to a 20-year-high of 181, according to a survey by the Eures think tank and the ANSA news agency.
Two thirds of the 181 women slain in Italy in 2006 had close ties to their killers - fathers, husbands, partners, boyfriends - or had recently broken up with them.
In homicides of both sexes, more people were killed by their loved ones than by the mafia - 32% of the 516 murders in 2006 were committed by relatives or significant others, and 23% by the Mob.
The number of foreign victims rose by 20% while the number of foreign-born murderers rose by 31%.
Three out of four murders of foreigners were by illegal immigrants: 30% by Romanians, 23% by people from Africa and 16% by Albanians.
In six cases out of ten, foreigners killed other foreigners.
Italy is among four countries with the second-lowest murder rate in Europe, 1.0 per 100,000 inhabitants, behind Norway with 0.7.
After Denmark, Germany and Spain, which have the same rate as Italy, come Britain with 1.3, France with 1.6 and Sweden with 2.6.
The United States's rate is 5.6.