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CRIME

Italian police seize weapons in raid on neo-Nazi group

Police have seized guns, crossbows and other weapons from an Italian neo-Nazi group with ties to the Calabrian mafia.

Italian police seize weapons in raid on neo-Nazi group
Some of the weapons and far-right reading material seized in the police raids. All photos: Italian Police/AFP

Police said the group had also been forging contacts with extremists elsewhere in Europe.

Officers searching the homes of 19 suspects throughout the country, from Milan to Sicily, seized automatic weapons, rifles, crossbows, swords, knives, Nazi flags and books on dictators Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, police said.

Those targeted belonged to the fledgling neo-Nazi Partito Nazionalsocialista Italiano dei Lavoratori, or National Italian Socialist Workers' Party, which has an openly anti-Semitic and xenophobic programme and was in contact with Britain's Neo-Nazi Combat 18 and Portugal's far-right New Social Order.

The police operation originated from local monitoring of extreme right-wing local militants in Enna, Sicily, by anti-mafia and anti-terror police, local media reports.

Their operation revealed a large network of extremists operating in various parts of Italy, united by the same ideology.

The group reportedly aimed to recruit members through social media, and used a closed chat called “Militia” dedicated to training the militants.

One of the most powerful members of the group was a 50-year-old woman in Padua, calling herself the “sergeant major of Hitler”, who police believe was in charge of recruitment for the group.

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Investigators searching her home found propaganda material and banners featuring swastikas and other fascist symbols.

The head trainer of the “militia” was a member of the powerful Calabrian mafia 'Ndrangheta, who had collaborated with police on previous investigations and was a local leader in Liguria of the small, far-right Forza Nuova party, police said.

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BOLOGNA

Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.

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