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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 03:35 GMT
Police seize 'Red Brigades' cache

By Frances Kennedy
BBC correspondent in Rome

Italian police have raided an alleged hideout of the Red Brigades, the country's most notorious left-wing militant group.

Police evacuated the entire apartment block in Rome for fear of an explosion.

They found explosives and arms as well as police uniforms and documents claiming responsibility for the killing of a labour consultant last year.

The raid follows the arrests of nine suspected members of the Red Brigades in October.

Items are taken away after a raid on a Rome flat
During the raid, people living in the building were evacuated briefly

The haul found in a basement in an eastern suburb of Rome included 100 kilos (220 pounds) of explosives, detonators and guns.

Also seized were fake identity cards, police uniforms and, according to some reports, the original document claiming responsibility for last year's murder of a labour consultant, Marco Biagi.

He was targeted because he was helping to draft laws to make it easier to fire workers.

That crime and the killing of another labour adviser, Massimo D'Antona, were claimed by the New Red Brigades for the Combatant Communist Party.

They are considered the heirs to the original Red Brigades, who carried out numerous kidnappings and murders in the 1970s and early 1980s.

New targets

In October nine suspected Red Brigades members were arrested.

Many of them held regular jobs and were described by their neighbours as normal, law-abiding people.

Police investigations into the new generation of terrorists took a huge step forward after a shoot-out on a train earlier this year.

The palm top computer and cell phones of the two Red Brigades members - one of whom was killed - provided vital information on its links with the old guard and its targets.

These appear to be no longer high-profile industrialists or politicians but lesser known people who shape public policy.

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