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Body bags stockpiled for G8 summit


Ital­ian author­i­ties have ordered 200 body bags as they step up prepa­ra­tions for a vio­lent con­fronta­tion at next mon­th’s G8 sum­mit in Genoa, say Ital­ian media reports.

A room at the city’s hos­pi­tal will also be set aside as a tem­po­rary mor­tu­ary, said Ital­ian news agency ANSA.

The reports come amid grow­ing con­cern that the G8 sum­mit will wit­ness even worse con­fronta­tion than last week­end’s Euro­pean meet­ing in Gothen­burg. Tens of thou­sands of pro­test­ers — from anar­chists to Basque sep­a­ratists — are expect­ed to head for Genoa.

As well as the threat of street unrest, Ital­ian author­i­ties have been warned that attempts may be made on the lives of some of the world lead­ers present.

One threat passed on to Italy by the Ger­man secret ser­vice is of an assas­si­na­tion plan by Sau­di dis­si­dent Osama bin Laden, aimed at US Pres­i­dent George W Bush. Mil­i­tant sup­port­ers of Bin Laden are said to plan­ning a pos­si­ble bomb attack.

Pres­i­dent Putin’s per­son­al secu­ri­ty will also be stepped up because of a pos­si­ble threat from Chechen rebels, say his body­guards.

Mr Putin’s body­guards have already vis­it­ed Genoa and met the heads of spe­cial ser­vices from near­ly all the coun­tries being rep­re­sent­ed there, said Russ­ian secu­ri­ty chief Yevge­ny Murov, head of the FSO.

“Each spe­cial ser­vice works out its own method of pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty these days. Rus­si­a’s For­eign Intel­li­gence Ser­vice ren­ders enor­mous assis­tance to us, and we are in a per­ma­nent con­tact with them,” he said in an inter­view with the Russ­ian news­pa­per Kom­so­mol­skaya Prav­da.

He said his agency was aware of the Bin Laden threat, and was mak­ing its Genoa prepa­ra­tions in the light of them.

“We view the threats as total­ly seri­ous, but hope that with joint efforts we can solve all the prob­lems,” said Murov.

Lead­ers from Italy, France, Cana­da, the UK, Japan and Ger­many will also be at the two-day sum­mit, which starts on 20 July.

Ital­ian author­i­ties are prepar­ing a huge force of 20,000 police and sol­diers, backed by the threat of tear gas, water can­non and a for­mi­da­ble array of mil­i­tary hard­ware.

A “ring of steel” will be imposed on the city. Rail­way sta­tions and motor­way junc­tions will be closed, and flights into Genoa divert­ed.

In the city itself, the streets around the sum­mit venue have been declared as a “red zone”, and will be blocked off by dozens of armoured vehi­cles. Out­side the red zone, some areas will be set aside for pro­test­ers to make their views known.

Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlus­coni has said he wants dia­logue with the pro­test­ers, and stress­es the legim­i­tate right of peo­ple to make their views known, but he has warned them that vio­lent extrem­ists will be “iso­lat­ed and not be allowed to do harm”.

Air­craft car­ri­ers

As the secu­ri­ty oper­a­tion con­tin­ues to build up, some organ­is­ers are still report­ed to be keen to switch the sum­mit venue to a cruise ship, which would be moored safe­ly out at sea some­where along the Ital­ian Riv­iera.

At least two con­fer­ence lead­ers — Pres­i­dent Bush and French Pres­i­dent Jacques Chirac — are already plan­ning water­borne accom­mo­da­tion. Both will stay on air­craft car­ri­ers while attend­ing the summt.

Con­cern about secu­ri­ty has deep­ened since events in Gothen­burg, when Swedish police appeared to be over­whelmed by the scale and depth of vio­lence.

A lav­ish din­ner had to be can­celled and some del­e­ga­tions had to switch hotels after police said they could no longer guar­an­tee their safe­ty.

Three pro­test­ers were shot and dozens of police offi­cers were hurt.


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