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Italian anti-mafia priest nearly run over at Rome rally against drugs

Police shot and wounded man who attempted to run over Don Coluccia.

An Italian priest known for taking a stand against organised crime was almost run down deliberately by a motorcyclist during a candle-lit rally against drug dealing in the Tor Bella Monaca suburb of Rome on Tuesday night.

Don Antonio Coluccia, who is accompanied everywhere by a police escort, was protected from the attack by officers who shot and wounded the driver of the scooter in the arm.

In his attempt to target the well-known priest, who has stood up against criminality for the past 25 years, the motorcyclist collided with a police officer.

The attacker, reportedly a 28-year-old from Belarus with a criminal record, is currently under armed guard in hospital.

An investigation is underway into the attack which police believe may have been "commissioned" by criminals that control drug trafficking in Tor Bella Monaca.

Father Coluccia, 48, leads regular "marches for legality" through the streets of the east Rome suburb which is synonymous with the drug trade.

There was solidarity and support for the priest from politicians including Italy's interior minister Matteo Piantedosi who also telephoned Rome's chief of police to ascertain the condition of the injured officer.

Italy's deputy premier and leader of the right-wing Lega party Matteo Salvini expressed his solidarity with "a man of the Church who fights all kinds of drugs to save young people. Good luck to the wounded officer, all my contempt for the vile injured criminal".

Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri said he called the priest to "express the closeness of all of Rome and wish a speedy recovery to the injured police officer", adding that: "Violence and mafia must be opposed by all means."

"Don Coluccia's efforts must give a lot of annoyance to the mafia clans who control the drug dealing in Tor Bella Monaca", said Nicola Franco, the mayor of the local Municipality VI borough.

Photo ANSA

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Address Via dell'Archeologia, 00133 Roma RM, Italy

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Italian anti-mafia priest nearly run over at Rome rally against drugs

Via dell'Archeologia, 00133 Roma RM, Italy

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