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Demonstrations, Police Crackdown Against Organized Crime in Italy


Over 10,000 people, many immigrants, demonstrated against racism on Saturday in the southern town of Caserta, near Naples. Meanwhile, the Italian government deployed some 500 soldiers in the area in efforts to combat the Camorra organized crime syndicate. For VOA, Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

The Camorra has shown it has no intention of giving up its control of the territory in the area of Caserta, near Naples. Just two weeks ago members of the organized crime syndicate opened fire and gunned down six immigrants. There have been more killings since then, although not of immigrants.

Italian police said the murders of the immigrants were connected to drug trafficking in the area, where it appears Africans have begun to deal independently and stopped paying kickbacks to the Camorra.

A massive demonstration was held in Caserta Saturday morning against racism and against the Camorra. More than 10,000 people turned out. In addition to immigrants, who sang songs from their countries of origin - Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria - there were also many students, members of local associations and institutional leaders.

This African immigrant, who took part in the demonstration, said the climate here after the killings has changed. It is no longer what it was like before. Now, he says, there is discrimination of immigrants and killings of immigrants.

The Italian authorities have stepped up their fight against the Camorra. On Saturday 500 soldiers began their deployment in the area to provide assistance to the other police forces in the area.

The troops are patrolling streets and manning checkpoints in Caserta. Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has said the aim is to preside and render visible the presence of the state.

Just this week sweeping arrests were made against the mob in the area and Maroni said the Italian state is waging a war against the Camorra. He added pressure like never before is being exerted now on organized crime and that this pressure will be kept up until the war is won.

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