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Italy Sends Soldiers to Naples to Fight Organized Crime

The Italian cabinet gave the green light to the deployment of 500 soldiers for the next three months to combat organized crime in the Naples area. The decision follows the shooting last week of six African immigrants by the Camorra crime syndicate. Sabina Castelfranco reports for VOA from Rome.

The Italian government has decided to call in the army for the second time in less than two months. In August, it started deploying 3,000 soldiers at strategic sites across Italy to improve security and combat crime.

The center-right government of Silvio Berlusconi pledged to make Italians feel safer as it campaigned in general elections in April. In an effort to keep its word, the cabinet gave the green light to the use of 500 soldiers to combat organized crime in the Naples area. The soldiers will be deployed for the next three months.

The decision followed the shooting last Thursday of six immigrants from Ghana, Togo and Liberia in what authorities described as a hit by the Camorra organized crime syndicate. The killings sparked rioting in the Naples area.

The victims were killed by automatic gunfire as they stood outside a store that sold ethnic goods in Castel Volturno, a town of 22,000 people about 20 miles north of Naples. The killings are believed to have been in punishment for trying to compete in the drug trade in a territory considered out of bounds for anyone but members of the Camorra.

The mayor of Castel Volturno, Francesco Nuzzo, reacted positively to the government's decision to deploy the army.

"We are facing an emergency situation and have to provide an adequate, strong and effective response," said Volturno.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said he would be meeting with Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa in the next few days to decide exactly how these soldiers will be deployed. For the moment, they are expected to be used to patrol streets and man checkpoints in areas believed to be under the control of the Camorra.