More acts of vandalism, intimidation and violence have been taking place during Italy's tense election campaign, including a bullet placed in mail destined for a candidate for Parliament, and the knifing of two people affixing campaign posters.
Interior Minister Marco Minniti warned on Wednesday that Italian organized crime syndicates could try to influence the results of the March 4 vote which will help determine Italy's next government.
"The risk, is, unfortunately, concrete, that the Mafia can condition the free vote in our country," Minniti said at a presentation of Parliament's annual report on organized crime. "We understand that's a threat to the most important thing in democracy."
Authorities have long contended that crime bosses promise candidates votes from Italians loyal to their crime clan in exchange for public works contracts being awarded to their associates.
Nasty and sometimes violent incidents have been reported nearly daily in the run-up to the vote.
Early Wednesday, residents in a Rome neighborhood discovered two swastikas and "death to cops" scrawled in black paint on a monument honoring five police bodyguards who were slain on that block by Red Brigades terrorists during the March 1978 abduction of former Premier Aldo Moro. Moro was later slain by his captors.
Residents covered the graffiti with bed sheets until it could be erased. The memorial's plaque had been temporarily removed for cleaning ahead of the 40th anniversary of the policemen's killing.
On Tuesday, two men suffered knife wounds while affixing posters for a far-left party in central Italy, while a leader of the far-right Forza Nuova group was beaten up by assailants after leaving a supermarket in central Palermo, Sicily.
Violence also erupted earlier in the campaign in central Italy when an Italian gunman wounded six Africans in a drive-by shooting. He said he was avenging the murder of an 18-year-old Italian woman allegedly killed by Nigerian migrants.
Anti-migrant rhetoric has coursed through much of the campaign, including from leaders of the League, a party allied with former Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a campaign coalition.