Protester is shot dead in the battle of Genoa

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The Independent Online

A protestor was killed during a day of bloody violence in Genoa on Friday, wrecking the setpiece G8 summit of the world richest nations and putting a new question mark over the future of international gatherings.

A protestor was killed during a day of bloody violence in Genoa yesterday, wrecking the setpiece G8 summit of the world's richest nations and putting a new question mark over the future of international gatherings.

Street battles throughout the Italian port city also left at least 100 protesters, a number of police officers and four journalists injured. Seventy people were arrested.

There were conflicting reports about the death of the demonstrator, identified by an Italian news agency as Carlo Giuliani, from Rome but living in Genoa. One witness said the man was shot after attacking a police van with a fire extinguisher, and then run over. Another witness reported hearing a shot, which he thought was a tear-gas round, but he then saw a body on the ground.

A volunteer doctor for the anti-globalisation Genoa Social Forum said: "A man came running towards me crying, 'Someone's been shot. Help us. I think he's dead.' I gave him cardiac massage but he was already dead, I believe he probably died straight away."

A doctor who had been following the protesters said the demonstrator was shot in Piazza Alimonda, about 1.2 miles from the summit site at the Ducal Palace.

Valeria Valerio, of the Genoa Social Forum, said: "He has been hit twice, once in the forehead and once on the left cheek. He had blood pouring from his mouth." Another doctor called to the scene said the bullet wound was above his eye.

A woman who gave her name as Sabina said: "There is something terribly wrong here. We have done all we can to make today decisive but peaceful. It's ended in tragedy."

As police doctors examined the body, about 200 protesters began chanting "murderers" and "Shame". Some hurled objects at police who had formed a circle around the scene. Others overturned rubbish containers and set them alight.

Throughout a frenzied afternoon police used tear gas and batons to beat back club-wielding demonstrators, a small number of whom hurled rocks and overturned rubbish containers in the streets, setting fire to their contents and hurling Molotov cocktails.

The riots completely overshadowed the gathering of the club of the world's richest nations as it announced the launch of a $1.25bn (£875m) global fund to combat Aids and other diseases.

Plumes of smoke hung over the city as the G8 leaders met behind a ring of steel and concrete that cordoned off the city centre, and was protected by about 15,000 police.

Tony Blair's official spokesman said: "It is always a source of regret if anyone loses their life. We have always defended people's right to legitimate and peaceful protest, but when there is violent protest people can get hurt."

Earlier Western leaders showed a concerted front, expressing their determination to continue with international summits and arguing that the issues on the table were the very ones about which the protesters claim to be concerned.

Mr Blair said he welcomed dialogue but "the problem is that these demonstrators don't want dialogue, they want to storm the building and create an outrage". The danger was, he added, that democratic politicians would be prevented from discussing key issues by "a small group" of demonstrators. "I think it is a tragedy in circumstances where the issues we are discussing are in fact the very issues that some of these people say they are protesting about," he said.

There are growing doubts, however, about the future of such summits, with the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, describing his anxiety about the scale of the security preparations. The Prime Minister of Canada, which is due to host the next G8 summit in 2002, said he was not ready to announce its venue. Jean Chrétien was clear on one issue, however. "There will be no cancellation of the G8," he insisted.

President George Bush rejected the protesters' claims, saying that although they claimed to represent the poor, they embraced policies that "lock people into poverty" which he said was "unacceptable to the United States". The G8 summit brings together the leaders of the world's seven richest nations ­ the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy ­ plus Russia.