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Parcel bomb heightens G8 fears

13ft high barricades being erected in Genoa
13ft high barricades being erected in Genoa  


MILAN, Italy (CNN) -- A parcel bomb explosion at the offices of an Italian TV station owned by Premier Silvio Berlusconi has heightened security fears for the Genoa G8 summit.

A secretary was slightly hurt by the Milan blast, which came on the day Italian police sealed off the centre of Genoa where the weekend's economic summit is being held.

The parcel bomb came hours after an incendiary device was thrown into the Milan office of an employment agency, Select Italia Lavoroa, a communist group being blamed. A letter bomb exploded earlier this week at a Genoa Carabinieri station.

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Police on Wednesday erected concrete barricades and 13ft high steel mesh fences to close off a central "red zone" in Genoa including the 13th century Ducal Palace where G8 leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush are due to meet.

From 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), only residents of the red zone and those with official passes were allowed through after their belongings were searched.

Fighter jets, helicopters, warships and navy diving teams are part of a massive force that has been put in place to protect world leaders from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia at the annual economic summit which begins on Friday.

Italian 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 with a range of 15 kilometres (9.3 miles).

Anti-globalisation protesters gathering to demonstrate about third world debt, global warming and multinationalism have hit out at the measures -- which have cost $110 million -- saying they are heavy-handed and provocative.

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.

Protester Anna of the Genoa Social Forum, said: "We'll probably be 100,000 or 120,000 strong. There could probably have been more of us but people are being put off by government action, the police, the media. We didn't chose these terrorist tactics."

More than 15,000 police will be on duty armed with anti-riot gear, live ammunition, rubber bullets, batons, water cannons and armoured personnel carriers.

This had led to some of the protesters fearing the worst.

"I think the demonstration might get very, very, wild," said another protester who gave her name as Katrin.

"The Italian authorities are rumoured to have set up a morgue and I've heard about 200 body bags. I was quite afraid about going there," she added.

On Tuesday police swept the port city for arms and raided anarchist squats as three new bomb scares heightened security fears.

Police backed up by the secretive DIGOS security branch also carried out searches in Naples, Florence and the northern city of Padua, widening their investigation into Monday's letter bomb blast at a police station in Genoa which injured a policeman.

Wednesday's parcel bomb at Tg4 in Milan, one of three TV stations owned by Berlusconi, was addressed to news director Emilio Fede.

Tg4 issued a statement condemning the explosion and saying it considered it an attack on its right to report news.






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