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Italian military to help police cities

June 14, 2008 at 7:17 PM

NAPLES, Italy, June 14 (UPI) -- The Italian government plans to deploy 2,500 soldiers on police patrols in major cities, officials said.

Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni agreed to amend a bill on maintaining public safety to allow the use of the military, the news agency Ansa reported. The soldiers would be used for a six-month period, subject to renewal if both parties agree.

La Russa said the soldiers would be used on night patrols, where they are most needed. The assistance would have to be requested by police and coordinated by city prefects.

''For the armed forces this will be a sacrifice, because we are short of personnel," La Russa said. "However, it is a task we will gladly perform and this will all be to the merit of our soldiers."

Soldiers who have overseas experience would be the first chosen for the urban patrols. The government already plans to use soldiers to protect garbage dumps in Naples, where trash disposal has become a major crisis.

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