Dozens of immigrants were fleeing their shantytown homes on the outskirts of Rome Friday after a string of attacks blamed on foreigners prompted authorities to crack down on camps inhabited mainly by Gypsies.
Carrying their belongings in bundles and plastic bags, and sometimes atop bicycles, residents left a camp on the northern edges of the capital where police arrested a Romanian accused in the savage beating of an Italian woman near the camp who died Thursday after two days in a coma.
The victim, the 47-year-old wife an Italian navy commander, was attacked as she walked along a road after dark Tuesday toward the barracks where she lives, police said. She was beaten, dragged through mud and left bloody and half naked in a ditch, police said.
Outside the camp in the Tor di Quinto neighborhood, police and bulldozers waited for the order to raze the illegal settlement while most residents abandoned the area, fearing they would be rounded up and expelled.
The attack on the woman prompted Premier Romano Prodi's center-left Cabinet to give authorities the power to expel European Union citizens "for reasons of public safety."
Prodi in a condolence message to the husband on Friday said the killing had "had wounded the soul of all Italians."
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