The head of a nuclear power company was shot in the leg by an unidentified gunman in Italy yesterday, police said.

Roberto Adinolfi, chief executive of Ansaldo Nucleare, a company linked to Italian defence conglomerate Finmeccanica, was shot in the street outside his house in Genoa in northern Italy.

A source said two people on a motorbike had fired three shots, hitting him in the leg. The bullet fractured his right knee but he was not in a serious condition, they said.

Shooting people in the legs was a trademark practice by the Red Brigades, a left-wing guerrilla group that carried out a campaign of murder and kidnapping aimed at destabilising Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.

The source said magistrates were considering whether anarchists might have been responsible.