Jihadist users of Al-Qaeda linked websites have been rejoicing at the devastating earthquake that hit Italy's central Abruzzo region on Monday, describing it as a "divine punishment" for "the enemies of Islam". The earthquake killed over 260 people, injured hundreds more and destroyed thousands of buildings, leaving 20,000 homeless.
"At last they have had their dark days too. O Allah, kill them and leave them destitute vagabonds," said one of a series of comments that have appeared on various jihadist websites this week.
The Abruzzo earthquake has made headline news around the world, and Al-Qaeda sympathisers have followed via Arabic TV networks.
The jihadists appear to be engaged in contest to see who can post updates on the death toll from the earthquake fastest.
A series of strong aftershocks since the main quake have caused further damage, hampering rescue efforts and further terrorising the population in the town of L'Aquila and surrounding villages. One man died of a heart-attack following a quake on Tuesday.
Between 20-30 people were still missing on Wednesday.
"O Allah, keep the earthquakes and tragedies coming - cursed be Europe, Israel and the United States," wrote 'Ashiq al-Irhab', which in Arabic means 'desirous of terrorism'.
Another jihadist site, 'al-Shura', has been publishing tolls of the Abruzzo earthquake victims beneath each article, accompanied by a macabre prayer.
The prayer reads: "O Allah, may the death toll continue to rise. Destroy our enemies and help Muslims!"
A user of the 'al-Shura' website, Nureddin al-Zanki, writes: "We have a stronger weapon than guns - our prayers, which will further drive up the numbers of victims."
Similar messages from jihadists have been posted to the 'Ansar' and 'Mujahidin' websites, whose users have rejoiced in the past at other disasters to hit western nations. (adnkronos.com)