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Dec 6, 2:21 PM EST

Neo-fascists throw flares at Italy's Repubblica in 'war'



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ROME (AP) -- A neo-fascist party attacked the headquarters of the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper Wednesday and declared "war" against its publisher, the latest in a series of extremist, far-right and anti-immigrant incidents across Italy.

A dozen masked Forza Nuova supporters, dressed in black and carrying the party's flag, threw flares at the office housing Repubblica, its publisher L'Espresso Group and weekly magazine of the same name. They carried a banner reading "Boycott L'Espresso and Repubblica."

Repubblica has reported regularly on an escalation of incidents by Forza Nuova and other right-wing and skinhead movements targeting migrants. The paper's editorial line has also favored proposed legislation to accelerate citizenship for children born in Italy to immigrants.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Forza Nuova said it was "declaring war" on Repubblica and L'Espresso, accusing it of "carrying out the genocide of the Italian people" by supporting the citizenship legislation.

Anti-immigrant sentiment has been rising in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, thanks to the influx of would-be refugees of many nationalities arriving on boats from Libya. Tensions have grown more acute as Italy heads into general elections next year, with a center-right coalition including the anti-immigrant Northern League trying to regain the premiership from the Democratic Party.

Last week, a group of skinheads interrupted a meeting on housing migrants in the northern city of Como and read an anti-migrant manifesto, prompting calls for the Interior Ministry to formally dissolve such groups.

Interior Minister Marco Minnitti visited Repubblica Wednesday in a show of solidarity and called the attack unacceptable.

"There cannot exist in our country an organized group that declares war against ideas," he said.

Repubblica editor-in-chief Mario Calabresi said he knew the paper piqued neo-fascist groups because of its investigations and editorial line and said he wasn't cowed by the attack. But, Calabresi said in a statement on the paper's website, he was concerned about the climate in Italy, where "this resurging fascism feels legitimized to raise its head and threaten those who fight for rights."

Even Rome's mayor, Virginia Raggi - a frequent target of Repubblica's wrath - expressed solidarity with the paper.

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