INTRODUCTION: Gunmen murdered a policeman, students hurled petrol bombs at riot police and thousands of workers downed tools as political violence swept several Italian cities on Saturday (12 March).
INTRODUCTION: Gunmen murdered a policeman, students hurled petrol bombs at riot police and thousands of workers downed tools as political violence swept several Italian cities on Saturday (12 March). The wave of angry students' demonstrations followed the death of left-wing student leader, 26-year-old Francesco Lorusso, in clashes with police at Bologna University on Friday (11 March).
SYNOPSIS: In Milan, students marched through the city centre to protest against the shooting of their colleague in Bologna. Lorussa was a well-known political activist who promoted cooperation between student and trade union movements. He was a member of Lotta Continua (Struggle Continues) which has frequently attacked the Communist Party leadership as "Collaborators" with the government. In Turin 30-year-old Giuseppe Ciotta of the city's anti-terrorist squad was ambushed and shot dead outside his home.
In Milan police said shots were fired into the tyres of a fire engine and some demonstrators later hurled Molotov cocktails at the police. While in Bologna, workers stopped work for three hours in a gesture of solidarity with the students.
In Rome about 50,000 students from all over Italy poured into the city for a big protest march. Dozens of people were injured as thousands of the demonstrators rampaged through the city, setting shops and offices on fire.
The Italian Interior Minister, Francisco Cossiga, blamed the riots on what he called "aspiring Tupamaros", a reference to Uruguayan urban guerrillas, and spoke of a "careful, planned, criminal guerrilla plot". Clashes between police and students were also reported in Florence and Turin. In Rome and Bologna about 60 people were arrested.