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Italian troops to fight Mafia crime wave

  • Story Highlights
  • Defense Minister: Majority of the troops would be sent to Naples area
  • This follows the murder of six people by local Camorra clan last week
  • Second time since 1990s that army has been sent in to combat Mafia crime
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(CNN) -- The Italian government has approved the creation of a new task force of 500 soldiers who will be deployed to combat the recent wave of Mafia crime in the country.

The army has been deployed in major cities aross Italy since the early summer.

The army has been deployed in major cities aross Italy since the early summer.

Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa told the ANSA press agency Tuesday that ''the majority'' of the troops would be sent to the southern city of Naples following the worst ever Camorra massacre last week, that left an Italian and six Africans dead.

La Russa said that the 500 troops will be in addition to the 3,000 soldiers deployed alongside police in major Italian cities this summer, ANSA reported.

''The troops could be deployed for three months and (perform) the functions of manning check points,'' he said.

This will be the second time since the 1990s that the army has been sent in to combat Mafia crime in southern Italy, ANSA said.

Thousands of soldiers were sent to Sicily in 1992 following the murder of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. They stayed on the southern island until 1998 in an operation dubbed the Sicilian Vespers.

The Casalesi Camorra clan is believed to have been behind Thursday's killings, which began with the shooting of an amusement arcade's 53-year-old Italian owner, known to have had links with the clan, ANSA said.

Twenty minutes later, three Ghanaians, two Liberians and a Togo national were shot dead at a shop where local residents often brought clothes for minor adjustments. A third Liberian died in hospital Friday morning.

According to ANSA, police said the murders were drug-related but also ''a signal'' that the Casalesi were still strong in the area despite a raft of recent arrests.

The Casalesi clan is one of the most feared Camorra gangs. It controls drug trafficking and prostitution in the Caserta region, near Naples.

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