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Last Updated: Friday, 11 August 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Padua builds wall in drugs battle
Italy map
The authorities in the historic northern Italian city of Padua have erected a steel wall around a housing estate notorious for drug-dealing.

The wall, surrounding six apartment blocks, is three metres (10ft) high and runs for 84 metres (275ft).

The area sealed off is home to some 1,500 people, many of whom are immigrants from Africa.

Veneto regional governor Giancarlo Galan condemned what he called the new "Berlin wall".

Padua's Socialist mayor, Flavio Zanonato, described it as an "enclosure" needed to help tackle the drug dealers.

Police are keeping the estate under surveillance, with checkpoints at the new barrier.

Italy's Rai TV website said there were long-running tensions in the area and recently North African and Nigerian drugs gangs had clashed there with knives and machetes.

Padua, with 212,000 residents, is one of north Italy's oldest cities and a popular tourist destination.

It has fine architecture, medieval frescoes, and was the setting for Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

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