Saturday, July 09, 2005

Italian police have arrested 142 people as part of a two-day anti-terror operation

Mass arrests made in Milan swoops
Italian police have arrested 142 people as part of a two-day anti-terror operation in and around Milan.

One and a half kilos (3.3 pounds) of explosive were found, reports say.

Some 2,000 Carabinieri police took part in the raid, aimed at boosting security at sensitive locations such as underground and train stations.

An internet claim of responsibility for the London bombings threatened Italy and Denmark with similar attacks, but its credibility has been questioned.

Gen Antonio Girone, the regional Carabinieri commander, said security forces had concentrated on Milan because it was a "prime target for possible terrorist action".

Some 7,000 people are said to have undergone preventive police checks.

Partial pullout

Police reportedly raided several Gypsy camps and other deprived areas.

Of those arrested, 83 are said to be non-EU citizens. Deportation orders have already been issued for 52 of them.

"Charges are mainly related to crimes like burglary, theft, evading home arrest and infringement of drug laws," Col Cosimo Piccinno was reported by daily Corriere della Sera as saying after the arrests.

In a separate development, police evacuated part of Rome's Fiumicino airport after a false alarm sparked by an unattended bag earlier this morning.

Speaking from the G8 meeting in Gleneagles, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Italy would start withdrawing 300 troops from Iraq in September.

But he underlined that the partial pullout had already been announced and that Italy's presence in the region would continue until the Iraqi authorities will be able to replace it with their own security forces.

"Commitments must be met," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS: