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Global protests marred by violence

Italian police fired tear gas and water cannons in Rome on Saturday as violent protesters turned a demonstration against corporate greed into a riot, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles.

The protest in the Italian capital, which left dozens injured, was part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations against capitalism and austerity measures that went global today.

Tens of thousands nicknamed "the indignant" marched in major cities across Europe, as protests that began in New York linked up with long-running demonstrations against government cost-cutting and failed financial policies in Europe.

Heavy smoke billowed into the air in Rome as a small group broke away from the main demonstration and wreaked havoc in streets close to the Colosseum.

Clad in black with their faces covered, protesters threw rocks, bottles and incendiary devices at banks and Rome police in riot gear. Some protesters had clubs, others had hammers. They destroyed bank ATMs, set rubbish bins on fire and assaulted at least two news crews from Sky Italia.

TV footage showed police in riot gear charging the protesters and firing water cannons at them. Several police forces and protesters were injured, including one man trying to stop protesters from throwing bottles. TV footage showed a young woman with blood covering her face, while the ANSA news agency said one man had lost two fingers when a firecracker exploded.

In the city's St John in Lateran square, police vans came under attack, with protesters hurling rocks and cobblestones and smashing the vehicles. One police van was set ablaze. Peaceful demonstrators who could not leave the square climbed up the staircase outside the Basilica, one of the oldest in Rome.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the violence on "a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe". He said some Rome museums were forced to close down because of the violence.

Elsewhere, bright autumn sunshine and a social media campaign brought out thousands across Europe.

In Frankfurt, continental Europe's financial hub, some 5,000 people protested at the European Central Bank, and some were setting up a tent camp aiming at permanently occupying the green space in front of the ECB building.


From Belfast Telegraph