Italy sends police reinforcements to Milan after pickaxe attacks

May 23, 2013 at 12:06 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter

MILAN, Italy, May 23 (UPI) -- Scores of police reinforcements are being sent to Milan to calm crime fears after a Ghanaian immigrant killed three people, Italy's interior minister says.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also deputy prime minister, said after a "security summit" Tuesday with Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia and regional officials that 140 officers of the Italian State Police and the Carabinieri are being sent to city.

Alfano called it "a major response" to widespread fears the city is out of control in the wake of the May 11 attacks in Milan's Niguarda district, where witnesses said a 31-year-old man from Ghana went on a rampage with a pickax, randomly attacking passers-by.

Three people died in the attack, which stoked fears over the safety of residents as well as racial resentment in Milan, where the ruling Northern League political party says 50,000 illegal immigrants are living.

Alfano said the reinforcements are "aimed at fighting the phenomena of widespread crime" in the Milan prefecture, Corriere della Sera reported.

"Our feeling is that if you are not free from fear, you are not free citizens," he said.

The interior minister said the additional police contingent is comprised of "fully operational units" specializing in the control of territory and are meant to help "guarantee the safety that Lombard citizens must rely on, especially after the serious recent events, with a greater state presence, translating concretely into a series of targeted interventions."

Lombardy region President Roberto Maroni said the new garrison's reach would extend beyond just the capital.

"I stressed the need for attention is not limited to Milan, but all the places of the region which have seen declining security," he said, while thanking Alfano for the " immediate response" after the Niguarda attacks.

The incident has brought death threats against the city's mayor, the Milan daily Il Giorno reported.

Last week a letter containing such threats was delivered to Pisapia, saying, "With your communism and laxity on crime, you are the real Niguarda killer."

Meanwhile, the far-right group Forza Nuova last week hung banners in front of the Northern League headquarters and elsewhere condemning the dominant political party for being too soft on immigration in the wake of the killings.

Angelo Balletta, a Milan spokesman for the group, told Il Fatto Quotidiano there was discontent in the city which could lead to some form of "self-organization" against crime, urging the League to "examine its conscience."

The government, he said, "has by no means solved the problem of immigration."

Alessandro Morelli, leader of the Northern League on Milan's City Council, admitted there was a risk that the "extremist forces, which are now small, can become great."

But he added that the league believes in working for security and immigration reform from "within the institutions."

Prosecutors indicated Tuesday medical records sent from prison and statements made by the pickax-attack suspect during interrogation have shown "unmistakable signs of a state of insanity" and have asked for a psychological examination, Italian broadcaster TGCom24 reported.

The suspect is accused of triple murder and robbery -- for taking the mobile phones -- of victims Carole Alexander, Ermanno Masini and Daniel Carella.

Police say he also struck a 23-year-old woman with an iron bar in the attacks. The woman managed to escape with injuries.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories