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Students clash with police at protest rallies across Italy

25 February 2018

Tensions between anti-fascist demonstrators and police forces boiled over into violence when the protesters tried to break through barriers into a nearby neo-fascist rally.

In Milan, demonstrators at a march against the anti-immigration party The League - until recently known as the Northern League - clashed with riot police, who set up barricades and used batons to control the crowds.

Protests also took place in Rome and the Sicilian city of Palermo. However, it has repeatedly ruled out governing with other parties.

Italy bans polls from being carried out 15 days before an election, but the last poll showed the centre-right coalition, between Forza Italia led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the anti-euro League and the rightwing Brothers of Italy, leading the way with 37 percent.

The shocking violence caught on camera in Milan is just the latest in a wave of disturbing clashes that have hit Italy ahead of the election on 4th March.

The competing parties can still hold election campaign events up until Friday.

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Earlier in the day in Milan, hundreds of anti-fascist activists, many of them holding Communist Party flags, had gathered in a square to protest.

In Rome, some 3,000 officers were deployed for marches and sit-ins on Saturday.

Several thousand people took to the streets of the capital to protest for democratic values and against what they described as resurgent fascism.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and former leftist PM Matteo Renzi, who is vying to regain the top spot, briefly attended the demonstration, which was organised by the National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI), under the slogan "Fascism Never Again".

Big rallies have so far been notably absent from campaigning to form Italy's 65th government in little more than 70 years, with a new electoral law leaving the outcome highly uncertain.

Meanwhile, consecutive marches in Palermo in northern Sicily are expected to be attended by Roberto Fiore, the head of the far-right group Forza Nuova, and members of a far-left movement.

Students clash with police at protest rallies across Italy