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Italy militants riot over fascist election rally

By Staff
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Milan, Mar 11 (Reuters) Some 200 anti-globalisation protesters torched cars and a building in Milan today when police tried to break up their protest against a fascist rally called ahead of Italy's April general elections.

An exploding nail bomb injured four police and at least 40 demonstrators were arrested, police said.

''They turned a quiet Saturday into a war zone,'' Milan council official Riccardo Dicorato told Reuters.

Violence erupted when riot police started dismantling barricades set up by protesters to try to block a march by the fascist ''Tricolour Flame'' party due later today.

The protesters, many with their faces covered, responded by hurling nail and firebombs at police, torching at least three cars, one shop and several scooters. They also smashed windows in nearby stores, including McDonald's and Nike, witnesses said.

Police fired tear gas to break up the riot, that forced the closure of nearby metro stations and roads.

Italy's political classes span the extreme left to the extreme right and tension is high ahead of the April 9-10 elections. Opinion polls show Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition is likely to lose to the centre-left.

REUTERS KD VC2058

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