Protester 'killed' in G8 clash

Click to follow
The Independent Online

G8 summit demonstrators hurled petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who wielded clubs, fired tear gas and used water cannon in return. One protester was reportedly killed after being shot in the head and run over by a Carabinieri vehicle.

G8 summit demonstrators hurled petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who wielded clubs, fired tear gas and used water cannon in return. One protester was reportedly killed after being shot in the head and run over by a Carabinieri vehicle.

They hurled firebombs and stones at ranks of riot police, who wielded clubs and fired water cannon and tear gas to drive the protesters back. One report said an officer fired shots in the air.

Only blocks from the medieval palace where world leaders were meeting, demonstrators tried to breach a high steel-mesh barricade, hurling themselves against it, and were driven back by water cannon fired by police at point-blank range from the other side. Inside the sealed-off "red zone" surrounding the summit sites, riot police scrambled to erect new barriers and positioned a bus to block an alleyway in case protesters were able to break through.

Near a railroad station in the city center - and just on the edge of the "red zone" - a sustained clash broke out when police fired continued volleys of tear gas and then charged into the ranks of protesters, batons flailing in the air.

About three kilometers (2 miles) from the meeting sites, a group of self-described anarchists threw bottles and firebombs at a jail. It wasn't clear whether they were trying to break in or free prisoners.

The violence erupted as small groups of demonstrators broke away from a large main march to confront police just outside the "red zone." Demonstrators ripped up cobblestones to hurl at riot police, smashed windows and threw firebombs.

Clouds of tear gas and black smoke from trash-can fires wafted over Genoa's medieval old town. Witnesses said about 200 people dressed in black started smashing windows of a bank and police intervened, firing tear gas and clubbing people with batons. Protesters were also seen hurling computers and other office equipment out of nearby offices into the streets.

Blue uniformed riot police chased protesters, swinging clubs even at people who raised their hands. An Italian male nurse and an APTN producer were among those clubbed by police, witnesses said.

Three paramilitary policemen were reported to be slightly injured, and police said 15 demonstrators were detained.

The violence followed days of tension leading of the summit, after the Italian government vowed to crack down on any violence by protesters opposed to the annual Group of Eight summit bringing together the leaders of the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and Italy.

An automatic-teller window at at least one downtown bank were smashed, a car was overturned, and garbage bins were set afire. As the fighting raged in narrow residential streets, one woman could be seen pouring water onto the trash fire below.

Protesters by the hundreds had streamed into Genoa at the last minute, and police said they couldn't immediately provide an updated figure for the demonstrators, but put the number in the tens of thousands. On Thursday night, more than 30,000 protesters had joined in a noisy but peaceful march.

Hours before the clashes erupted, protesters were stocking up on lemon juice to fight the effects of tear gas, while police lined up shipping containers to block the expected march route. The city, along with some 20,000 police and soldiers, had braced for days for a showdown around the summit of the world's leading industrial nations.

After spending the night under a drenching rain in a Genoa stadium, protesters warmed up in the morning to the energizing notes of the "William Tell Overture," which was piped in on loudspeakers by organizers.

About 100,000 demonstrators were preparing to march toward the summit site, an organizer, Francesco Caruso, predicted as hundreds more streamed in to Genoa at the last minute, from Britain, Spain, Sweden, Greece and southern Italy.

But the clashes seemed to disorient the marchers, who stopped for about an hour or so to regroup. One of the late arrivals, a 22-year-old Swede, Karl Eklund, was part of a group shouting "revolution is the only solution."

"We will go ahead and break into the 'red zone,"' vowed Eklund, referring to the heavily policed and fenced-off swatch dividing Genoa in two.

The move by authorities in part widened the "red zone," a nine-square-kilometer (six-square-mile) area near Genoa's port, where the summit leaders will be meeting, dining and sleeping. Over the last few days, Genoa's steep alleys leading down to the port were cut off from the rest of the city when four-meter (13-foot) high steel fences were put up.

The protesters want U.S. President George W. Bush and the other G-8 leaders to heed their demands that the wealth generated by global markets reach the world's poor.

Bush took a hard line on the protesters Friday, saying while protesters claim to represent the poor, they embrace policies that "lock people into poverty and that is unacceptable to the United States."

In the days before the summit, Italy reintroduced border controls to help weed out suspected troublemakers. On Friday morning, police stopped two Frenchmen and a woman from Lyon, in their early 20s, at an Italian-French border point, and seized three gas masks, a club, helmets and material to construct an incendiary device, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Since 1999, protesters have been dogging meetings of the powerful around the world to push their agenda, and some of those demonstrators have turned violent.

Comments