• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Italian coastguard wants to carry weapons

AFP · 27 Feb 2015, 14:42

Published: 27 Feb 2015 14:42 GMT+01:00

The demand is a long-standing one but has been renewed following a recent incident in which traffickers armed with Kalashnikovs threatened coastguards engaged in an operation to rescue thousands of migrants in danger of drowning close to Libya.

It also follows signs that the Islamic State group has established a base in conflict-torn Libya, from where propagandists claiming to speak for the jihadists have threatened to mount attacks on southern Europe and merchant shipping in the Mediterranean.

The coastguard wants to be given the same status as Italy's police forces, which would automatically give it the right to carry weapons.

A resolution adopted by the coastguard's General Command called for urgent talks on the issue with Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi, whose department oversees the coastguard.

It said it was self-evident that the coastguard was now engaged in mainly policing activities and that having to rely on other forces for protection was "humiliating" and "seriously undermining staff morale."

The resolution also highlighted the ordeal of coastguards who were threatened by armed people smugglers during a rescue operation on February 15.

As the coastguards evacuated a migrant boat, four smugglers arrived on a speedboat and forced them to hand over the empty vessel, which they then took off with, presumably for re-use in future crossings.

Italy's Federation of shipowners called on the government to introduce naval patrols to protect fishing boats operating in international waters between Italy and North Africa.

Story continues below…

"Our fisherman are afraid of being attacked by terrorists, they cannot be allowed to live with the nightmare of not coming home," the federation's chairman, Carmelo Micalizzi, said in a statement.

"They need to feel protected and more at ease in a Mediterranean that becomes more dangerous every day."

Dwindling stocks closer to Italy have forced fishermen in Sicily to venture further afield and many now depend for their livelihood on catching tuna, swordfish and prawns in waters close to Africa.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Italy has Europe's oldest population: Eurostat
Italy is home to the highest proportion of over-80-year-olds in the EU. File photo: Pexels

13 of every 200 people in Italy are aged over 80 - the highest proportion in the EU.

Italy police get lunch for poor woman 'forced to steal food'
The stolen goods only amounted to €14. File photo: Pexels

The woman had stolen food worth €14 from a supermarket.

Renzi: UK won't get special treatment post-Brexit
The UK can't expect an easy ride post-Brexit, Renzi warned. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italian PM Matteo Renzi said the UK won't get more rights than other countries outside the EU after voting to leave the bloc.

Looters steal computers from quake town's new school
Almost a third of the schools in the area are now unusable. The above photo is of a school in Amatrice: AFP

The school had only been opened two weeks ago, after the town's existing two schools were left unusable by the earthquake.

Here's what Americans in Italy think about the US elections
The candidates shake hands before the debate. Photo: AFP

Four American expat voters from across the political spectrum talk about the issues which influenced their vote, and how it feels watching the elections from Italy.

Italy scraps bid to host 2023 Rugby World Cup
Italy's rugby team at the Six Nations earlier this year. Photo: AFP

The move is a result of Rome's decision not to bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Italy's migrant centres in crisis amid money worries
A man and his daughter in a Sardinian centre for refugees. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The centres are fuller than ever - but the government has stopped paying.

Berlusconi at 80: My regrets and future plans
Berlusconi turns 80 on Thursday. Photo: AFP

"Politics was never really my passion," says Italy's longest-serving post-war premier.

Italy 'held naval manoeuvres with Iran' in strategic strait
The Strait of Hormuz. File photo: AFP

The Italian ambassador called the port call "a positive sign".

Northern Italian region approves 'anti-mosque' laws
One of Italy's few purpose-built mosques, in Rome. File photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Similar laws in other regions have been scrapped for being anti-constitutional.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Culture
Eight things you should know about Rome's Spanish Steps
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The incredible hero dogs of Italy’s earthquake
National
Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
2,748
jobs available