Naples clashes leave 80 injured

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The Independent Online

Anti-globalisation protesters and riot police have clashed violently in Naples on the closing day of a conference discussing the role of the internet in government.

Anti-globalisation protesters and riot police have clashed violently in Naples on the closing day of a conference discussing the role of the internet in government.

An estimated 80 people - police and protesters - were injured in running battles. Some 15,000 demonstrators from the No Global network and Italian left-wing, anarchist, Green and unemployed groups converged on the southern city yesterday morning. Security in Naples had been tight since the conference began on Wednesday, with 6,000 policemen deployed.

The violence erupted when protesters tried to force a barricade sealing off the central Palazzo Reale, where the Global Forum - a conference of political, finance and technology leaders - was being held. Police in riot gear responded with tear gas and baton charges as protesters hurled paving stones and smoke bombs and set fire to skips. Witnesses say the piazza looked like a battlefield.

Organisers claim a pregnant woman was among those injured in baton charges. An Italian news agency reporter and a photographer said they were beaten by police as they struggled to show their ID. An Italian camera crew was attacked by protesters and around 100 people were arrested. The fiercest clashes occurred around lunchtime, but there were sporadic standoffs in separate areas of the city in the afternoon. Shops, cars and offices in central Naples were damaged.

The 800 technology experts and delegates from governments associated with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) discussed topics including electronic voting, the impact of technology on the organisation of government, serving the citizen, implementing e-government, and the digital divide.

Italy's Public Administration minister, Franco Bassanini, invited the anti-globalisation protesters to participate in the discussions, but they said they wanted the conference to be halted while they met the minister and delegations from the developing world.

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