Authorities in Italy strongly denounced the violence that erupted Saturday during massive protests in Rome to show discontent over the government’s handling of the economic difficulties faced by the country. It was one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the Italian capital in years.
Saturday's demonstrations were meant to be peaceful, but they quickly turned violent. More than 70 people, including demonstrators and police officers, were injured. About 20 people have been arrested so far but more are expected to be rounded up, and questioned by police in the coming hours and days.
Hundreds of hooded, masked protesters hurled rocks, paper bombs and bottles at police. They smashed shop and bank windows with clubs and sticks. They set fire to dumpsters and cars.
Police in anti-riot gear charged at the radicals firing tear gas and using water cannons to try to disperse the violent elements.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Sunday the violence was a worrying sign for civil society. He said the perpetrators must be identified and punished.
Other politicians described the scenes in Rome as nothing less than urban guerrilla warfare, saying it hurt the cause of those trying to freely express their discontent.
Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party of the Left said the violence must be deplored. He added that the reasons why many young people chose to demonstrate peacefully are right and the that violence cannot ruin all the positive ideas that were behind the demonstration.
Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni says he will address parliament in the coming week about the violence. He expressed solidarity with the work of the security officers and insisted criminals had infiltrated the peaceful demonstrators.