Tens of thousands of anti-austerity protesters have taken to the streets of Italy as part of a general strike gripping the EU. Injuries, arrests, and violent clashes between protesters and riot police have marred rallies throughout the country.
Rome descended into chaos as thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators violently confronted riot police throughout the city. At least 50 people have been arrested as the city’s central thoroughfares have been choked off, bringing the central Rome to a standstill.
Demonstrators from Italy's powerful CGIL labor confederation and students have reportedly run wild in the streets of the Italian capital along the Tiber River, throwing firecrackers, bottles and ripping down street signs, ANSA cites police as saying. Up to 50 people have reportedly been arrested.
Armored cars were deployed and teargas was fired to disperse hardliner demonstrators who lobbed rocks near Rome’s Synagogue.
Another protest in the Italian capital saw a small band of rock-hurling protesters unsuccessfully attempted to break through a police cordon to reach Prime Minister Mario Monti’s offices.
Over 100 separate rallies were taking place throughout the country, some peaceful, others going the way of Rome.
Some 20 protesters reportedly beat a riot police officer with a baseball bat and sticks in the northern city of Turin, leaving him in a serious condition. Five more officers were injured during running street battles in the heart of Milan.
Two police officers were sent to the hospital in the Northern Italian city of Padua after large firecrackers exploded in their vicinity during clashes with demonstrators. One officer suffered lacerations to his legs, while another passed out from the explosions.
At least 10,000 peaceful demonstrators consisting of students and laborers marched through the streets of Bologna. The protesters marched through the city’s major thoroughfares in the morning as part of four separate rallies.
A general strike is underway in Europe that has brought millions of people on to the streets to protest austerity measures which organizers argue are deepening the eurozone crisis. Italian unions have coordinated Wednesday’s action with workers in Belgium, Greece, France, Portugal and Spain.