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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Genoa set for summit onslaught
Road Closed sign on road to Palazzo Ducale
Roads to the summit venue are barricaded
The final stages of a massive security operation swung into effect in Genoa on Wednesday, as the Italian port braced itself for the arrival of tens of thousands of protesters.

Officials fear that the G8 summit, which starts in the city on Friday, could descend into major violence like that seen at last month's European Union meeting in Gothenburg.

We've opted for civil disobedience because, unlike the G8 leaders, we don't have armies at our disposal

Luca Casarini, Tute Bianche
Huge iron barriers have been erected around a central "red zone", to keep protesters out. The city's airport, railway stations and ports were closed on Wednesday as the city's "ring of steel" policy took effect.

But tensions were heightened by the explosion on Wednesday of letter bombs at a TV station owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and at the headquarters of the Benetton clothing company.

The leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Russia are all attending the summit, posing a security nightmare for their Italian hosts.

Protesters planning to use violence have been condemned by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush.

"Small groups of anarchists and hooligans have been using legitimate protest as a vehicle for causing chaos and mayhem," a spokesman for Mr Blair.

President Bush said anyone who demonstrates against the G8 was no friend of the poor

Anti-globalisation protesters
More than 100,000 protesters are expected in Genoa
As the clampdown tightens, a train chartered by anti-globalisation protesters to carry hundreds of British activists from Calais to Genoa has been cancelled by French railway officials.

Up to 3,000 protesters are already thought to be in Genoa, many arriving early to beat the "ring of steel" imposition.

Security alerts

Italy has withdrawn from the EU's open-borders treaty, the Schengen agreement, ahead of the summit and border officials have already turned away more than 680 people headed for the city.

The security operation has been plagued by reports of bombs - both real and false.

A secretary in Milan was injured when opening a package addressed to Emilio Fede, the news director of Tg4 - one of the media networks owned by Silvio Berlusconi.

Jose Bove
France's Jose Bove is among the high-profile protesters
And in the northern town of Ponzano another package exploded at the headquarters of Benetton, though no-one was injured.

The interior minister blamed extremists bent on disruption for a letter bomb which exploded in Genoa on Monday, badly injuring a policeman.

Jails 'emptied'

There were 60 security alerts on Tuesday, all of which turned out to be false alarms.

Reports also said some of the city's jails were being emptied to make way for the anticipated dozens of detainees.

The radical Tute Bianche (White Overalls) group has vowed to break into the red zone and plans an assault for Friday.

It looks like we're at war

Genoa resident Attilio Cipollina
"We'll be like firemen who drive through red lights and break the highway code because they have an objective - to put out the fire," said the movement's leader, Luca Casarini.

"We've opted for civil disobedience because, unlike the G8 leaders, we don't have armies at our disposal. We won't have truncheons, they will," he said.

The Genoa Social Forum (GSF), an umbrella organisation for around 700 protest groups, plans a peaceful march for Saturday which it expects will attract 150,000 people.

Ahead of the summit, foreign ministers from the G8 countries have been attending a pre-summit meeting in Rome to try to find agreement on the agenda, which will include global poverty, the Middle East and the controversial US missile defence plans.


The summit meetings themselves are due to be held in the city's Palazzo Ducale (Duke's Palace). The roads leading there are being barricaded behind four-metre (13-foot) iron barriers.

Up to 20,000 police and military personnel are involved in the security operation.

The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present.

Anti-aircraft missiles have been deployed at the airport, and naval vessels are patrolling the seas.

"It looks like we're at war," said one resident inside the red zone, Attilio Cipollina.

The summit has sparked massive media interest in Italy, with Wednesday's headlines dominated by the security alerts.

La Repubblica also comments that this may be the last G8 summit as the pillars of international politics crumble under the pressure of globalisation.

The BBC's Brian Barron
"On the streets now there are more prosaic concerns"
The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"Even residents need passes to enter the red zone"
The BBC's Gillian Hargreaves in Genoa
examines the security arrangement taken by the host city of the G8 summit
See also:

15 Jun 01 | Europe
Gothenburgers count the cost
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