Naples: Exasperated residents set fire to rubbish

Burning rubbish in Naples (24 June 2011) Some of the piles of rubbish were 2m (6ft) high

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Residents of the Italian city of Naples set fire to piles of rubbish overnight in protest at the government's failure to clear a backlog of some 2,000 tonnes of malodorous waste from the streets.

Firefighters tackled about 55 rubbish fires, some of them in piles of waste 2m (6ft) high.

The Camorra organised crime group controls most waste-collection services in Naples, Italy's third-biggest city.

Armed guards have been brought in to escort bin lorries as tensions rise.

Last month, the government mobilised the army to help clear rubbish from the streets after angry residents began setting fires to piles of bin-bags.

However, the Italian cabinet failed to approve a decree allowing waste to be transported to other regions.

'Pontius Pilate'

In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris said organised crime was putting residents at risk.

"Various groups want Naples to remain buried under rubbish... for political reasons or because of illegal interests," he told La Repubblica on Friday.

He also accused Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of failing to help, describing him as "having washed his hands, like Pontius Pilate".

Mr de Magistris, from the opposition Italy of Values party, was elected last month as voters turned against Mr Berlusconi in what was seen as a test of his popularity.

Earlier this month, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano visited Naples and declared the situation with the city's waste "alarming".

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