NAPLES, ITALY - Thousands of anti-globalisation protesters have clashed with riot police in the Italian city of Naples.
An estimated 20,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against a meeting of the Global Forum - a conference of government and technology leaders being held in the city.
Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at demonstrators after they broke through barricades in an attempt to reach conference delegates from 120 governments.
Demonstrators protesting against the Global Forum try to break through a security line around the San Carlo theatre where the conference is being held in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 17, 2001. Government delegations from 188 countries are taking part in an international conference on Governance which started Thursday, March 15. (AP Photo/Franco Esse)
More than 100 people were injured in the violence, including one police commander who was taken to hospital with serious head wounds.
Paving stones and smoke bombs were thrown from the crowds and rubbish containers were set on fire.
The protest was organised by the No Global Network and included hard-line left-wing groups, anarchists, environmentalists and local unemployed people from Naples.
Witnesses said the central square looked like a battlefield as ambulances ferried the injured out.
Several people, including journalists and parliamentarians, accused the police of using "gratuitous violence", but the Naples police chief said his men were attacked and the response was fitting.
A demonstrator protesting against the Global Forum is kept on the ground with a rifle by a Carabiniere (Italian para-military police officer) after clashes broke out near the San Carlo theatre where the conference is being held in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 17, 2001. (AP Photo/Cesare Abbate)
A journalist and photographer said they had been beaten up by the police, while protest organisers said a pregnant woman had been among those hurt.
An Italian television crew was also attacked by the protesters.
Cars and offices were damaged in the protest and shop windows were smashed.
Many store owners had shut their businesses in anticipation of the violence.
Helicopters circled overhead monitoring the clashes and about 100 people are reported to have been arrested.
"The situation is under control, but we remain vigilant," police spokesman Nicola Izzo said.
The demonstrators gathered at the scene after arriving in Naples on trains from Milan and Palermo.
A total of 6,000 police had been drafted into the city, and had sealed off the centre with barricades and riot vehicles in preparation for possible clashes.
The global forum, involving 800 delegates from governments and international organisations, has focused on how new technologies change the concept and practice of government.
While the five-day forum has a section dedicated to the digital divide, and ways of ensuring electronic access to developing nations, the protestors say the Internet age is only exacerbating inequalities.
Tight security has been imposed at dozens of summits and high-level finance meetings throughout Europe and the United States since huge anti-globalisation riots wrecked a meeting
of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in 1999.
Copyright 2001 BBC