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Genoa braces for G8 summit

July 18, 2001

LONDON, Eng­land (CNN) — Ital­ian secu­ri­ty forces are on height­ened alert after a bomb attack in Genoa, where the world’s top lead­ers are to gath­er for the lat­est G8 meet­ing of indus­tri­alised nations.

The Ital­ian gov­ern­ment had already put in place a wide­spread secu­ri­ty sys­tem, includ­ing at least 15,000 police­man, army, navy ser­vice­men at a cost of up to $110 mil­lion.

But a par­cel bomb sent to the Cara­binieri sta­tion in the Frut­tu­oso area of Genoa and a defused time bomb just days before the sum­mit opened act­ed as a fur­ther warn­ing to secu­ri­ty forces.

Police will be ful­ly equipped with riot gear and armed with live and rub­ber bul­lets, tear gas, water can­non and batons dur­ing the sum­mit this week­end. Army and navy per­son­nel will also be on call, as will snipers, bomb dis­pos­al units and armoured vehi­cles.

The Ital­ian author­i­ties’ secu­ri­ty mea­sures also include the posi­tion­ing of sur­face-to-air mis­siles at Genoa’s Christo­pher Colum­bus air­port. Dubbed the SPADA, the land-based sys­tem con­sists of mis­siles capa­ble of a range of 15 kilo­me­tres (9.3 miles).

The min­istry said the deci­sion to install the mis­siles is not exces­sive.

“There’s no exces­sive pre­cau­tion,” mil­i­tary spokesman Colonel Alber­to Battagli­ni told Reuters. “The mea­sure, which was planned by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, may seem open to crit­i­cism, but in real­i­ty it is mere­ly to act as a deter­rent against any aer­i­al incur­sion dur­ing the sum­mit.”

The choice of Genoa for the sum­mit is regard­ed as a secu­ri­ty night­mare. It is a port, with access from the sea, and has a back­drop of hills. Its cen­tral streets are nar­row and wind­ing, mak­ing hit-and-run vio­lence of the type seen at June’s EU sum­mit at Gothen­burg dif­fi­cult to con­tain.
Brief out­line of Genoa G8 secu­ri­ty:
- About $110 mil­lion has been spent on host­ing sum­mit.
- At least 15,000 police and mil­i­tary troops deployed.
- Police will wear anti-riot gear and be equipped with live ammu­ni­tion, rub­ber bul­lets, tear gas, armoured per­son­nel car­ri­ers and water can­nons.
- Sur­face-to-air mis­siles will be in place, while fight­er jets, naval ships and minesweep­ers will be used.
- A Red Zone which will osten­si­bly be closed to every­one apart from del­e­gates and res­i­dents will be set up. Twelve foot bar­ri­ers to be erect­ed.
- Rail, road and air­port links will be shut, the port cleared and bor­der con­trols patrolled.
- Yel­low Zone will act as buffer zone around the red zone.
- U.S. Pres­i­dent George W. Bush will not stay with oth­er world lead­ers because of fear of ter­ror­ist attack.
- Met­al detec­tors, snif­fer dogs and agents will stand guard at the lux­u­ry cruis­er hous­ing the lead­ers.

Italy’s Defence Min­is­ter, Anto­nio Mar­ti­no, told CNN: “Genoa is not the best place to organ­ise such a meet­ing because it is very hard to defend key sites and the con­cern of the gov­ern­ment is that some vio­lent ele­ments may join the pro­test­ers and cause prob­lems.”

The offi­cial G8 Sum­mit Web site said it was not so much vio­lence by the demon­stra­tors that they feared most, but “the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a ter­ror­ist attack.”

The head of Rus­si­a’s Fed­er­al Body­guard Ser­vice has warned of a plot by ter­ror­ist Osama bin Laden to assas­si­nate George W. Bush at the sum­mit and the U.S. Pres­i­dent may be stay­ing at U.S. Camp Dar­by mil­i­tary base in Livorno or off­shore on the Amer­i­can air­craft car­ri­er, USS Enter­prise to avoid any ter­ror­ist risk.

The oth­er lead­ers of the world’s most indus­tri­alised nations — the U.S., Britain, Cana­da, France, Ger­many, Italy, Japan, plus Rus­sia — are also stay­ing off­shore on a lux­u­ry cruise lin­er, the “Euro­pean Vision, ” char­tered by the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment at a report­ed cost of $2.89 mil­lion.

Met­al detec­tors will be posi­tioned at the end of the gang­plank, while snif­fer dogs and uni­formed and plain clothes police­men will stand guard.

Two secu­ri­ty zones have been des­ig­nat­ed. The top secu­ri­ty “red zone” includes the city cen­tre, the sum­mit venue, the 13th-Cen­tu­ry Ducal Palace, and the water­front where hotels and cruise ships host­ing 1,500 del­e­gates and 5,000 jour­nal­ists will be locat­ed.

Shop­keep­ers and bar own­ers have installed steel shut­ters while work­men have put up 12-foot (4 metre) high met­al fences at key entry points to the “red zone.”

Hos­pi­tals in Genoa and neigh­bour­ing towns and cities have been put on alert.

The “yel­low zone,” which is much larg­er than the red zone, will act as a buffer zone. Access is less tight and demon­stra­tions will be allowed to take place here, but police will be able to seal off the area quick­ly if nec­es­sary.

Fac­to­ries deemed strate­gi­cal­ly sen­si­tive will receive spe­cial pro­tec­tion.

The Old Port and the city cen­tre will be cor­doned off, lit­ter bins removed, mar­kets closed, man­hole cov­ers weld­ed and sew­ers searched.

Coast guard divers will search under­wa­ter caves while satel­lite data will help inter­cept any unwel­come ves­sels.

Naval boats will patrol access to the port while fight­er jets will mon­i­tor the skies.

The air­port, the two main rail sta­tions, an ele­vat­ed rail­way and all motor­ways into the city will be shut. There is even a move to intro­duce checks at the bor­der with France — scrapped by the 1995 EU Schen­gen Treaty. Ger­many was tight­en­ing its bor­der con­trols.
‘Anar­chy’ express

It is an elab­o­rate defence against a sophis­ti­cat­ed protest net­work includ­ing anti-glob­al­i­sa­tion activists as well as envi­ron­men­tal­ists, debt can­cel­la­tion cam­paign­ers and human rights demon­stra­tors.

About 120,000 pro­test­ers from 800 groups are expect­ed to descend on Genoa, main­ly under the umbrel­la of the Genoa Social Forum.

It has con­demned vio­lence and post­ed warn­ings on its Web site that pro­test­ers should not car­ry “any object that can be con­sid­ered an offen­sive weapon (i.e. Swiss Army Knives.)

Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Clau­dio Sca­jo­la met with the group in the run-up to the sum­mit and warned that the gov­ern­ment would use “max­i­mum sever­i­ty” with those hav­ing “vio­lent inten­tions.”

But there was con­cern that groups deter­mined to car­ry out vio­lent actions were out­side the Glob­al Social Forum’s umbrel­la.

An Ital­ian group call­ing itself “Tute Bianche” (White Over­alls) has said it intends to incite vio­lent demon­stra­tions.

An Eng­lish group, Glob­alise Resis­tance, has hired a spe­cial train dubbed by author­i­ties as the “Anar­chy Express,” which will have “a very few” anar­chists on it, spokesman Guy Tay­lor said.

Oth­ers will be trade union­ists, activists, NGO offi­cials and peace­ful pro­test­ers.

“There were 25,000 demon­stra­tors in Gothen­burg but only 600 were involved in trou­ble,” he said.

“The focus in Genoa will be on Third World debt. On Sat­ur­day there is a mass demon­stra­tion on the issue. The G8 nations pull the strings of the World Bank and the IMF.”


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