Immigrants riot in Italy2010-01-08 14:08
Rome - Riots broke out in southern Italy on Thursday night when immigrants burned cars and broke store windows to protest against an attack on African farm workers by a gang of local white youths, police said.
Television footage from the town of Rosarno, in the Calabria region, showed dozens of Africans smashing car windows with steel bars and stones and setting cars and rubbish bins on fire.
Police said at least one car was attacked while passengers were inside and several people were injured.
The immigrants, whose protest also blocked a road, clashed with police in riot gear and several were detained.
Some shouted "we are not animals" and carried signs reading "Italians here are racist".
The incidents took place after white youths in a car fired air rifles at a group of African immigrants returning from work on farms, injuring several of them.
Immigrants work in the area as day labourers picking fruit and vegetables. Some 1 500 live in squalid conditions in abandoned factories with no running water or electricity and human rights groups say they are exploited by organised crime.
Calabrian regional governor Agazio Loiero said while the action of the immigrants was totally unjustified, he acknowledged there had been "a strong provocation".
Italy has taken a hard line against illegal immigration and has moved to stem a tide of boatloads of immigrants who try to arrive on southern shores from Africa. Some boats have been turned back on the open seas.