In a massive show of force today (Tuesday 23 February) 5,000 police and carabiniere moved into the last remaining stronghold of demonstrators in Reggio Calabria.
In a massive show of force today (Tuesday 23 February) 5,000 police and carabiniere moved into the last remaining stronghold of demonstrators in Reggio Calabria. This was the working class district of Sbarre which has ruled itself from behind barricades of burnt-out vehicles and felled trees for a week. The police and carabiniere, backed by 20 armoured personnel carriers, found no resistance as they moved into the area at 5 o'clock in the morning.
It seemed that the police move would end months of rioting in this southern city. Violence broke out last year after the smaller town of Catanzaro was named provisional capital of the district of Calabria, and has continued sporadically for seven months.
In recent weeks, as the rioting intensified, thousands of police were moved into the city and troops guarded main highways and railway lines on the outskirts.
Last Tuesday, when the 40-man regional council of Calabria proclaimed Catanzaro the official capital of the region, the rioting erupted afresh.
When police last tried to move into the Sbarre district they were met by a hail of bullets, molotov cocktails and other missiles. Today, they took no chances. Armoured personnel carriers led the way. The police trained their machine guns on windows on either side of the streets. They cleared the barricades and took control of the area.
But late tonight the police were withdrawn and last reports said the barricades were springing up again. The police were withdrawn after shots were fired at them. And the battle of Reggio continued.