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Italian police arrest 100 in mafia sweep

Italian police carried out a "historic" sweep against mafia clans in Palermo and Tuscany, making around 100 arrests.

world Updated: Dec 16, 2008 15:14 IST

Italian police carried out a "historic" sweep against mafia clans in Palermo and Tuscany early on Tuesday, making around 100 arrests, authorities told AFP.

Around 1,200 police backed by helicopters and dog handlers arrested the heads and members of mafia clans in the Palermo region on the island of Sicily and in Tuscany, in central Italy.

Police said they were suspected of wanting to resurrect "Cosa Nostra", the leading Sicilian mafia organisation which was dismantled with the arrest in 2006 of its last known boss Bernardo Provenzano.

The sweep that police labelled "historic" was the culmination of a nine month investigation. Police planned a news conference later on Tuesday in Palermo.

According to a statement, those arrested were linked to fugitive mafia chief Matteo Messina Denaro, who is accused of seeking to reconstruct the Cosa Nostra's leadership.

The crimes targeted by the sweep, codenamed "Perseus," included association with mafia members, extortion and arms and drugs trafficking.

"While the 2006 operation had brought Cosa Nostra to its knees, Perseus has prevented it from rearing its head again," said national anti mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso.

First Published: Dec 16, 2008 15:10 IST