Rome: EU Summit Protests Begin
- Protesters, police clash as EU summit begins: Rome venue turned into
ROME, Oct 4: Italian riot police fired teargas and wielded batons on
Saturday to break up a protest by anti-globalization demonstrators
outside a summit in Rome , at which European leaders were mulling a
As helicopters buzzed overhead, hundreds of officers fought a running
battle with protestors along a broad avenue within 300 metres of the
summit venue on the outskirts of Rome.
At least one person was injured and 24 arrested as demonstrators
smashed shop windows, even before the main rally began outside the
high-security venue in Rome's fascist-era EUR district
Organizers claimed over 300,000 demonstrators participated in two
separate rallies, including 250,000 in Rome and at least 70,000 near
the summit venue, but police said the Rome march only attracted
As darkness approached some protesters, wearing hoods and masks and
armed with sticks, forced a line of police to crouch under a hail of
stones and missiles. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Some 10,000 riot-ready police officers were on the streets of Rome
enforcing a no-go zone around the venue. Fighter jets roared
overhead, accompanied by AWACS surveillance aircraft and helicopters.
European trade unions, using slogans including "Liberal Europe too
concerned about businessmen", and the anti-globalization movement had
called a joint demonstration demanding "another Europe".
They want the EU to do more to address average citizens' concerns as
the 15-member bloc expands to include 10 new mainly ex-communist
countries in May next year.
"We will never build a stronger Europe on a weaker social pillar. It
must attract popular enthusiasm and be firmly rooted in popular
politics," the secretary general of the European Trade Union
Confederation, John Monks, said.
"We want to send a message to Europe's political leaders that they
will weaken the social dimension of Europe at their and Europe's
peril," he added.
At one point group of about 50 anti-globalization protesters attacked
the offices of a temporary work agency before being chased away by
police, and an ambulance was seen moving in to take away an injured
In one clash with police three demonstrators were injured. A group of
hooded demonstrators also attacked a bank near the summit conference
centre, damaging the building's reinforced glass windows.
Protesters, most of them Italians, arrived on specially-booked trains
in the morning and had an initial non-violent standoff with
authorities guarding the seat of the Italian government, the Palazzo
Authorities were bracing
for the type of violent demonstrations that rocked a summit of the
Group of Eight industrialized nations in July 2001 in the northern
Italian city of Genoa in which one young protester was shot to death
The clashes and vandalism came two days after a letter bomb ripped
through the Italian labour ministry in central Rome. The explosive
caused no injuries but rattled nerves on the eve of a meeting of EU
defence ministers and the ensuing summit.
No one has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack, but Italian
Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu accused far-left militants from the
Red Brigades group of being behind it.
Two labour ministry officials, Massimo D'Antona and Marco Biagi, were
gunned down in 1999 and last year by the Red Brigades.-AFP
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