Italy protests: Anti-EU leader's visit sparks violence in Naples

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Protesters clash with police in Italy

Italian police have clashed with protesters in Naples amid a visit by the leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

Riot police fired tear gas and used water cannon against masked groups armed with Molotov cocktails, local media report.

The protesters were marching through the southern city in opposition to the Northern League's anti-EU policies.

The party, led by Matteo Salvini, is looking to gain support in the region.

The demonstrations in the city were largely peaceful, but violence broke out after a small group of individuals with their faces covered threw bottles and other objects at police.

People in the immediate area sought refuge in nearby buildings.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The protest turned violent after a group of masked demonstrators hurled objects at the police
Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The riot officers responded by firing tear gas at the crowds

Mr Salvini decided to go ahead with his party's rally in Naples on Saturday despite the planned protests. It is the first time that he has planned to address crowds in southern Italy.

His party, based in the affluent north of the country, has long disparaged the south, but Mr Salvini is trying to capitalise on anti-immigrant sentiment in the region.

On Friday, a small number of protesters displaying a banner that read "Naples doesn't want you" occupied the convention centre in Naples where Mr Salvini was due to speak.

The Italian interior ministry had to intervene to ensure that Saturday's rally could go ahead.

The Northern League has recently tried to broaden its base and make inroads in the south by capitalising on what it believes to be populist, anti-immigrant sentiments in the region.