Italian police report rise in attacks on officers enforcing mask rules

There have been reports of a spate of attacks in recent days on Italy's police officers by people refusing to follow rules aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.

Italian police report rise in attacks on officers enforcing mask rules
Police patrol the Trevi Fountain in Rome on August 19th. Photo: AFP
On Tuesday night, a 22-year-old Italian man attacked police officers at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, leaving one with a broken hand and two others with minor injuries. The man faces charges of resisting arrest and injuring a public official.
This was the latest incident in which police in Italy have bee attacked in recent days by people refusing to follow the safety rules.
A police officer speaks to vistors about safety rules at Rome's Spanish Steps. Photo: AFP
In the early hours of Sunday morning, two police officers in another part of Rome were treated for injuries in hospital after being attacked by a group of young people who police had spoken to about wearing masks. Three people aged 20-25 were charged following the incident.
“I am very worried about the climate of intolerance towards the work of the police lately in various Italian cities,” Italian police chief Franco Gabrielli told Italian newspaper La Nazione after officers on patrol were attacked by a group of young people in the Tuscan town of Massa earlier this week.
“Law enforcement officers work every day to protect constitutional rights and for the safety of citizens. Perhaps it is time for everyone to regain respect for the institutions and for those who represent them at the forefront,” he said.
The spate of attacks came shortly after police began handing out fines for not wearing masks in public areas outdoors at night, with the first of the €400 penalties handed to a man in Rome on August 21st, who told police “covid-19 doesn't exist.”
Around ten fines for refusing to wear a mask have been handed out each day in Italy since they were made mandatory.
Under Italian rules aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, face masks must be worn on public transport and in public indoor spaces at all times. They are also mandatory in busy or crowded outdoor areas between 6pm and 6am.
The only exceptions are for children under six or people with a disability that makes it impossible.
The rules on mask-wearing were tightened in mid-August as the number of new positive cases in Italy began to rise again.
Those rules will apply until at least September 7th, when the government will decide whether to extend them further.

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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.