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Clashes in Rome ahead of Northern League rally, protest

February 27, 2015

ROME (AP) — Clashes have broken out in Rome on the eve of a rally by Italy’s right-wing Northern League party and a counter-protest by activists opposed to its anti-immigrant stand.

Police cleared out the central Piazza del Popolo square after anti-Northern League activists occupied a church. Police appeared set to keep it under guard until Saturday’s rally by party leader Matteo Salvini. Friday evening, police clashed with protesters at a nearby square, the ANSA news agency reported.

Tensions over migration are particularly high as Italy copes with waves of refugees coming from Libya and threats from Islamic militants to “conquer Rome.”

The Northern League is seeking to capitalize on anti-immigrant sentiments ahead of regional elections. Anti-League activists carried an inflatable raft in solidarity with refugees.