War weapons seized, far-right militants held in counter-terrorism operation in Italy

Three people were arrested and war weapons seized in a counter-terrorism operation launched against far-right activists here, Italian authorities said on Monday.

The operation was coordinated by prosecutors in the city of Turin in northwest Italy after a one-year investigation, and raids were carried out in four northern provinces, including Varese and Pavia, police said in statement.

An air-to-air missile, nine assault rifles, one machine gun and seven pistols were among the firearms seized, it said.

The three people arrested — two Italians aged 50 and 51, and a 42-year-old Swiss national — were charged with illegal possession of war weapons.

Police explained that the investigation focused on “some people linked to far-right political groups, who fought in the Ukrainian region of Donbas against secessionist forces.”

They specified that “coats of arms and clearly Nazi-inspired placards” were found in the house of one of the two Italians arrested.

“The materials seized deserve utmost attention,” the Turin-based La Stampa newspaper quoted local police chief Giuseppe De Matteis as saying at a press conference.

“We are talking about 20 assault rifles plus spare parts … and, in addition to the missile, we found other war equipment.”

“Launched one year ago, the operation has rapidly evolved over the past three months,” the Turin police chief added.

Investigators suspected one of the two Italians played a major role in the group, being materially responsible for having purchased the air-to-air missile.

This man served as an anti-fraud customs inspector at Milan Malpensa Airport in the past, and run for the Senate on a far-right list in the early 2000s.