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Italy anti-G8 protest turns violent
Thousands of people protested against the July 8-10 G8 summit, which Italy chairs.
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2009 04:03 GMT
Police fired teargas to prevent protesters from reaching a US military base in Vicenza [AFP] 

Thousands of protesters have clashed with Italian police in the first big protest against the upcoming G8 summit of the world's richest nations in Italy next week.

Police in riot gear fired teargas at protesters on Saturday to prevent them from crossing a bridge and moving closer to a controversial US military base in the northeastern city of Vicenza.

A group of demonstrators, some of them wearing motorcycle helmets and with their faces covered, threw bottles, rocks and lit firecrackers before they were pushed back by security forces.

Protesters were later allowed to continue their march, which broke up peacefully in the early evening. There were no reports of injuries.

Several thousand people attended the demonstration, launched against expansion plans that would make the US base one of the biggest in Europe, and more generally against the July 8-10 G8 summit, which Italy chairs.

"We are sick of the powerful governing without consulting the people," said Martina Vultaggio, 29, one of the protest organisers.

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia, together with those of major emerging economies, will hold talks in the central city of L'Aquila focusing on the state of the world economy, financial regulation, climate change, trade and development.

More protests planned

Anti-capitalist protesters have planned a series of demonstrations at different sites, starting with the one in Vicenza, where locals oppose the doubling of the size of the US base, home to 3,000 soldiers of the 173 Airborne Brigade.

Opponents contend the base poses a threat to ground water, is dangerous for residents and for Vicenza's historic centre, a treasure of Renaissance architecture.

The protesters had vowed to march about 3.5km to the construction site, which was sealed off by local authorities, and plant flags with anti-base slogans.

Around 1,000 police were deployed on Saturday along the route.

Violence marred a G8 summit hosted by Italy in Genoa in 2001, when a protester was killed and scores of others were beaten up by police.

Source:
Agencies
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