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Italy Deploys Troops to Combat Crime


Italy has deployed thousands of troops across the country in an effort to combat crime. While many Italians appear to be in favor of the move, some have criticized the move as a government attempt to improve its image. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Milan.

Italian police have been struggling to combat rising crime they link to illegal immigration. The number of foreigners living in Milan and other cities across Italy has increased dramatically over the last decade.

Personal security has become a major political issue. And the center-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has come up with a military solution.

Riccardo De Corato, Milan's deputy mayor says Milanese and Italians have a low perception of security. He adds that the presence of the military will boost the state's visibility in combating crime.

For the next six months soldiers will be positioned at sensitive sites, like consulates, public offices and train stations. They will also be deployed at immigrant holding centers and carry out street patrols in cities across Italy.

Government critics say the move is largely cosmetic. But this Milan taxi driver says many of his customers are in favor of the move.

He says 90 percent of the people with whom he speaks are unsatisfied with security. Crime, he says, is a phenomenon that must be fought particularly in multi-ethnic cities with large populations like Milan, Rome and other important Italian cities.

Critics have said the presence of troops in public areas could hurt tourism. But government officials say tourists will feel safer.

The army has been deployed in Italy before for greater security but never on a national level. The last time soldiers were put on the streets was in 1997 to fight a crime wave in Naples.



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