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By Alastair Jamieson and The Associated Press

A Nigerian migrant who reportedly escaped the terror of Boko Haram was beaten to death in an apparently racist attack in a small Italian town.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to tackle racism and said his government was reaching out to offer help following the murder of Emmanuel Chidi Namdi in Fermo, about 150 miles northeast of Rome.

Namdi was attacked with a steel bar after he stepped in to defend his wife against a racial slur, The Associated Press reported. He ended up in a coma and died Wednesday.

People leave flowers in the place where Nigerian Emmanuel Chidi Namdi was killed Tuesday in Fermo, Italy.CRISTIANO CHIODI / EPA

Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said a suspect — described as a local soccer hooligan — has been arrested in relation to the attack. Alfano visited Fenmo on Thursday and stressed that Italy welcomes migrants.

Nnamdi, a Christian, fled Nigeria after Boko Haram attacked his village church. Both his parents and a sibling died in the attack, the Vatican Radio news service reported.

He came to Italy eight months ago on a smuggler's boat from Libya with a woman who he later married.

The couple was lodging in a local shelter run by a Catholic charity, according to Nigeria’s Daily Post. She was pregnant during their traumatic trip across the Mediterranean Sea but subsequently lost the baby, it reported.

Renzi said the government was taking action in Namdi’s memory “against hatred, racism and violence” and expressed solidarity with a local priest, Vinicio Albanesi, who has been leading local efforts to accommodate migrants.

The United Nations Refugee Agency's chief for southern Europe, Stephane Jaquemet, condemned the attack.

"Encountering death in Italy, after suffering violence and abuse [in Africa] and having survived the Mediterranean is unacceptable," Jacquemet told Vatican Radio.