Italian police officer shoots dead mentally unstable migrant

Published 08.06.2016 19:28

A policeman in Italy has shot dead a mentally unstable migrant who stabbed him during a brawl in an area renowned for tensions between immigrants, locals and police, media reports said Wednesday.

The fight reportedly broke out after the Malian migrant suffered a psychotic episode, became violent and tried to steal from fellow seasonal workers in the vast tent camp in San Ferdinando, which sits on the outskirts of the southern city of Rosarno.

The overcrowded and dirty tent camp houses thousands of people who scrabble to get work largely in the area's orange groves.

Two policemen intervened, but called for back-up when they failed to calm the Malian. When he saw extra police arrive he lashed out with the knife, wounding one of the officers near the eye, the Corriere della Sera said.

Fearing a possible second attack, the officer shot the migrant in the chest, killing him instantly, it said.

Shocked and angry migrants then circled the officers, who drew their weapons and called for more back-up. The situation calmed down after several hours when police in riot gear arrived, but tension remained in the camp, the report said.

Dozens of migrants were taken to the local police station for interviews.

Rosarno is notorious in Italy for the climate of tension between its seasonal workers -- many of whom hail from sub-Saharan Africa -- security forces and local residents, and has been the scene of repeated clashes.

Two days of unrest in 2010 prompted more than 1,000 Africans to flee the Calabrian town after clashes left 67 people injured, between migrants, police officers and locals.

Doctors Without Borders at the time fiercely condemned local attitudes towards the migrants, saying conditions in the Italian tent camps were often worse than in refugee camps in Africa.

The Corriere della Sera said the camp was littered with rubbish, water was limited and migrants fought over the few jobs to be found.

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