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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 14:36 UK

Italian police swoop on migrants

Italian policeman at Roma squatter camp in Naples (file pic)
Tensions are high in Naples over Roma camps

Police in Italy have arrested hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants in raids across the country.

Expulsion orders were issued for several dozen of those detained. More than 100 Italians were also arrested.

One raid was on a makeshift camp housing Roma (Gypsies), on the edge of Rome. Italian concern about immigrant crime has tended to focus on the Roma.

Earlier this week, Roma families in Naples fled after angry locals set fire to their squatter homes.

The police crackdown was part of a week-long operation in Rome, Naples and northern Italy.

It is an apparent sign of the change of policy promised by the new right-wing government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, who belongs to the anti-immigrant Northern League, is set to hold talks with his counterpart from Romania, which has complained about discrimination against its citizens in Italy.

Immigrants from Romania, but also Albania, Greece, China and Morocco, were among those arrested, Italy's La Repubblica news website reported.

Romanian police assisted in the raids.

The Roma community is perceived as responsible for a disproportionate level of crime in Italy, says the BBC's Christian Fraser.




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