Police battled with left-wing demonstrators in most major Italian cities on Friday (18 April) after mass meetings held to coincide with a nation-wide one-hour strike to protest against alleged right-wing violence.
GV TILT DOWN FROM Building TO burned-out car
TRAVELLING SHOTS ALONG Burned-out vehicles
GV Rome demonstrators through streets
GV Demonstrators PULL BACK TO armed police
GV Demonstrators marching
Initials CL/0228 CL/0247
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Background: Police battled with left-wing demonstrators in most major Italian cities on Friday (18 April) after mass meetings held to coincide with a nation-wide one-hour strike to protest against alleged right-wing violence.
Millions of workers downed their tools throughout the country in condemnation of "a spiral of violence primed by Fascist forces" after the deaths of two left-wing activists in Milan. One was shot dead by an alleged right-winger on Wednesday night (16 April) and the second was crushed by a police truck during bloody riots in the northern industrial city on Thursday (17 April) that involved some 30,000 leftists.
Police said that most of Friday's demonstrations were peaceful -- but in Milan some 25,000 leftists were again on the streets and small commando bands, their faces masked by scarves, wrecked at least three right-wing bars. Shop windows were smashed, the offices of the Spanish airline Iberia were attacked, automobiles were set ablaze, and the offices of two parliamentarians belonging to the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) were invaded, ransacked and set ablaze with petrol bombs. The Milan office of the Social Democratic Party also was attacked.
In Rome, leftists hurling stones and petrol bombs and armed with iron bars battled police, who responded with barrages of tear-gas and baton charges. Several shots were fired in a pitched battle outside the offices of the MSI-dominated trade union CISNAL.
Similar confrontations took place in Turin, Florence, Bologna, Padua, Cagliari and Naples, but police said the main student demonstrations in all these cities were peaceful and attributed the violence to splinter groups who broke away from the main processions.