Palermo (Italy), May 23 (IANS/AKI) Police on Monday arrested 10 mafia suspects in the Sicilian capital Palermoaccused of terrorising Bangladeshi residents in the city by trying to force them pay "protection money".
The arrests came after the Bangladeshis reported the alleged extortion racket to police, investigators said.
The mafia suspects face charges of attempted murder, extortion, theft and assault against members of Palermo's Bangladeshi community "known for its peaceful nature," police said.
The suspects are from a Sicilian mafia clan that controlled part of Palermo's high-crime Ballaro district and which extorted "protection money" from members of the local Bangladeshi community on "dozens" of occasions, according to investigators.
Over 100 officers took part in Monday's raids involving chases though a "rabbit-warren" of narrow alleys in the Ballaro district, police said.
An investigation into the alleged extortion racket gained new impetus after a Gambian student who refused to pay "protection money" to the local mafia clan received serious gunshot wounds to the head in April, said police.