Army may guard tax offices as unrest mounts

Soldiers may be brought in to protect Italian tax offices and other sensitive sites after an increase in violence as the country struggles through austerity measures.

In the past six months there has been a wave of attacks countrywide on offices of Equitalia, the agency which handles tax collection, with the most recent on Saturday night when a branch was hit with two gasoline bombs.

Staff have also expressed fears over their safety with increasing numbers calling in sick and with one unidentified employee telling Italian TV: “I have told my son not to say where I work or tell anyone what I do for a living.”

In another incident last week, Roberto Adinolfi, a director with arms firm Finmeccanica, was wounded by anarchists in Genoa. The group later said in a letter claiming responsibility that they would carry out further attacks.

Annamaria Cancellieri, the interior minister, said she was considering calling in the army in a bid to quell the rising social tensions. “There have been several attacks on the offices of Equitalia in recent weeks. I want to remind people that attacking Equita-lia is the equivalent of attacking the State,” she said in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper.

“Bringing in the army to defend sensitive targets is a possibility that we are studying. This has already been done in the past. We have a limited number of personnel available and so that is why using the army is a possible solution.

“We are going through a very difficult moment and some people may feel tempted [to cause disturbances]. We all need to have a sense of duty and ensure that this temptation does not spread.”

Saturday night’s gasoline bomb attack took place on the Equitalia office in Livorno and the front of the building was severely damaged by fire. The phrases “Thieves” and “Death to Equitalia” were sprayed on walls. The attack came just 24 hours after more than 200 people had been involved in running battles with police outside a tax branch in Naples, leaving a dozen protesters and officers injured.

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