Italian police relocate migrants

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of African immigrants have been evacuated from a southern Italian town, following some of the country's worst racial violence since the Second World War.

The exodus followed three days of clashes in the southern Calabrian town of Rosarno, which began when some residents began attacking immigrants, who responded by rioting. At least 53 people, including 18 policemen, were injured in the unrest.

Authorities moved more than 1,000 people, mostly illegal temporary workers from sub-Saharan Africa, to immigrant centres around Italy, in an operation that lasted from Saturday through to the early hours of Sunday.

Even workers with legal residence permits left the town to escape a climate that one political commentator compared to the Sixties Ku Klux Klan racial violence in the US.

The front-page headline of one anti-government newspaper, Il Fatto Quotidiano, referred to the immigrants' departure as "Ethnic Cleansing".

Pope Benedict departed from the prepared text of his weekly Angelus blessing to appeal for tolerance. "An immigrant is a human being, different in origin, culture and tradition, but he is a person with rights and duties who must be respected," he said.