Hundreds of Italian soldiers and police are hunting for a former soldier dubbed "Rambo" who allegedly shot dead two people before fleeing to the countryside to live off the land.

The huge manhunt for Igor Vaclavik, also known as Norbert Feher, was stepped up over Easter weekend after he disappeared following a botched attempted robbery of a bar in the town of Budrio near Bologna, in northern Italy.

Authorities believe the 41-year-old is armed and dangerous, so they have commandeered 50 elite paratroopers and sniffer dogs to search countryside between Bologna and Ferrara in an area of around 40 square kilometres.

Believed to be a former special forces soldier from Serbia, authorities suspect he has been surviving by scavenging fruit from nearby farms and stealing eggs from chicken coops whilst hiding on the forest.

It is alleged that Vaclavik shot dead 52-year-old Davide Fabbri on 1 April 2017 before disappearing.

Then a week later he was challenged by a gamekeeper and a police officer, who were patrolling a wood and thought he might be a poacher, reported the Daily Telegraph.

Vaclavik then allegedly shot both men killing gamekeeper Valerio Verri and seriously wounding policeman Marco Ravaglia.

Italian media have reported that Vaclavik then stole the police officer's pistol and ammunition before fleeing, and maybe carrying up to 40 rounds of ammunition and two guns.

There has been a number of reported sightings of the fugitive including on a train on 10 April and in brush inside a designated "red zone" where authorities are concentrating their resources.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper interviewed a former criminal who knew Valclavik.

He said: "He will try to remain in hiding until things have calmed down. But in any case, he would rather die fighting than go to prison."

Said to be a church-goer who converted from the Christian Orthodox church to Catholicism, Valclavik had spent time in prison. The former criminal, who claimed he had spent time in prison with Valclavik, said: " He said he did robberies but had not killed anyone.

"He argued that real men use knives and bows and arrows. In prison he was the quietest person in the world," the source said.