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Amnesty issues G8 warning

G8 security
A coast guard boat on patrol near a surface-to-air missile launcher at Genoa airport  


GENOA, Italy -- A human rights group has warned Italian authorities against using heavy-handed tactics to prevent demonstrations during the G8 summit in Italy

Italian security chiefs are preparing for potentially violent protests in Genoa and are on heightened alert after a letter bomb exploded in a police station on Monday.

Similar gatherings of international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, have seen protesters with agendas as diverse as global warming to third world debt clashing with police.

A host of leading Western leaders will attend the G8 in Genoa but the summit is also expected to attract up to 100,000 anti-globalisation protesters.

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Italian authorities have warned protesters heading for the summit -- which starts on Friday and runs until Sunday -- that they will crack down on any violence.

It has begun implementing a series of stringent security measures both inside and outside the city.

But in a statement criticising Italian handling of recent protests, as well as other nations' security measures during similar international meetings, Amnesty said police actions must not violate human rights laws.

It listed restrictions on police use of weapons, demonstrators' rights of expression and assembly, bans on arbitrary arrests and rights in custody as measures that would be scrutinised during the summit.

"Amnesty International does not condone violence aimed at police or property, nor does it oppose the lawful use of reasonable force by law enforcement officials," the statement said.

"However, policing must be carried out in such a way as to protect the rights of people engaged in peaceful protest."

Tension has been heightened after two bomb incidents in the host city on Monday raised the spectre of possible terrorist attacks.

Brief outline of Genoa G8 security:
- About $110 million has been spent on hosting summit.
- At least 15,000 police and military troops deployed.
- Police will wear anti-riot gear and be equipped with live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas, armoured personnel carriers and water cannons.
- Surface-to-air missiles will be in place, while fighter jets, naval ships and minesweepers will be used.
- A ?Red Zone? which will ostensibly be closed to everyone apart from delegates and residents will be set up. Twelv