A policeman with his gun drawn was overpowered in a violent demonstration against the government of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The officer from the Guardia di Finanza, a paramilitary police force under the authority of the finance ministry, was dragged to the ground and beaten with clubs.
Mr Berlusconi’s narrow victory in a parliamentary confidence vote brought pandemonium to the streets of Rome. Thousands of protesters fought riot police in the Corso, the capital’s main street, in front of tourists.
About 40 demonstrators and 50 police were injured as cars were set on fire and paint and smoke bombs thrown at government buildings, with the protests spreading to Turin, Naples, Sicily, Sardiniaand Milan.