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Italy cracks down on anarchists after riot

- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2011

ROME (AP) — Italian police conducted raids Monday throughout the country against suspected anarchists and their sympathizers following riots in Rome that marred a march against Wall Street greed, a top security official said.

Interior Ministry Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano told Sky TG24 TV that the crackdown targeted far-left suspects. He gave no details because the operation, which included house searches, was still being carried out.

Italian news reports said police raided homes and youth centers where extremists are known to hang out in cities including Florence, Palermo and Ancona. Six people were detained, along with the seizure of gas masks, ski masks and other gear used by rioters to protect themselves from tear gas and to hide their faces, the ANSA news agency reported.

Mr. Mantovano dismissed criticism that police weren't tough enough against the several hundred rioters Saturday. Rioters used clubs and sledgehammers to smash bank ATMs and store windows, torch police and private vehicles, and hurl cobblestones and chunks of sidewalk they had ripped out. Police battled back with tear gas, water cannon and batons.

Politicians from both the opposition and Premier Silvio Berlusconi's coalition called for a get-tough campaign against so-called "urban guerrillas."

"There was tried-and-true urban terrorism," Francesco Giro, a Culture Ministry undersecretary said, surveying damage near Rome's St. John Lateran Basilica.

"We need to apply anti-terrorism laws," ANSA quoted Mr. Giro as saying in a call for authorities to launch preventive crackdowns on anarchists and insurrectionists.

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