After riot, Italy cracks down on anarchists

A van belonging to the Carabinieri (Italian paramilitary police) is engulfed in flames after protesters set it on fire during clashes in Rome, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. Italian police fired tear gas and water cannons after agitators in a demonstration against corporate greed turned the rally into a riot Saturday, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles.
AP Photo/Roberto Monaldo, Lapresse

ROME - 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 as protection from tear gas and to hide their faces, the ANSA news agency reported.

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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 Giro as saying in a call for authorities to launch preventive crackdowns on anarchists and insurrectionists.