Protests, transit strike disrupt life in Rome

ROME, Oct. 18 (UPI) --
A 24-hour strike by transport workers caused major traffic jams Friday in Rome as the Italian capital prepared for a large left-wing demonstration.



There were smaller protests Friday against Prime Minister Enrico Letta's budget, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. While those added to the disruption in the city, officials said Saturday was expected to be more difficult.



Mayor Ignazo Marino ordered a parking ban in the areas targeted by Saturday's protest because demonstrators set cars on fire in a massive action two years ago and said tops would be removed from garbage bins to keep them from being used for weapons. Marino promised a massive police presence Saturday.



"I hope that the protesters are wise and give the messages they think should be given and isolate any eventual irresponsible behavior," Marino said. "Tomorrow the city will activate crisis activities and we really hope this effort is not needed for interventions, but is just prevention, so that the protest can take place as peacefully as possible."



Police in Rome arrested five French nationals believed to be members of the Black Block movement. They were stopped at a checkpoint.



Codacons, a consumer group, called the transport strike a "failure" because a relatively small number of workers participated. But it said thousands of people were still forced to find alternate ways to get to work in Rome and other major cities and some flights were canceled.



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