Italian police have arrested two people after rioters rampaged through Naples and demanded the end of a curfew and planned regional lockdown intended to stem the coronavirus.
The pair were arrested during clashes and charged with resisting arrest, a police spokeswoman told said on Saturday, adding that two police officers suffered minor injuries.
“What happened in Naples last night is extremely serious,” Deputy Interior Minister Matteo Mauri said, condemning the attacks on police.
“It is absolutely clear that it was not a spontaneous protest but premeditated actions, almost totally organised by fringe (football) hooligans, criminal groups and political extremists.”
Hundreds of people gathered outside the office of Campania regional president Vincenzo De Luca, chanting “freedom”, hurling things at police in riot gear, and overthrowing and setting fire to garbage bins.
A reporter and a cameraman for the SkyTG24 news channel were assaulted.
The Fanpage news website blamed members of the Camorra Mafia and hardcore Naples hooligans for inflaming the protests, which were also endorsed by the neo-Fascist Forza Nuova party.
“May Naples be the first city that rises against the health dictatorship,” Forza Nuova leader Roberto Fiore said before the demonstration.
Campania, the region that includes Naples, is experiencing a major surge in coronavirus infections. On Friday it recorded 2280 new cases, a nearly 50 per cent increase from the previous day.
An 11pm-5am curfew was first applied overnight but De Luca announced on Friday plans to go further with a regional lockdown lasting “a month, 40 days”.
As infections are surging across Italy and not just in Campania, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is under mounting pressure to take stricter virus containment action.
The government has resisted calls for a national lockdown due to its economic and social cost but is considering a countrywide extension of the curfews adopted by Campania and some other regions.