Rome: Militants from Italy`s far-right Forza Nuova party hung "suicide puppets" outside tax collection offices on Friday, in the wake of a letter bomb explosion by the far left and other foiled attacks.
Marco Forconi, party head for the Abruzzo region in central Italy, claimed responsibility for the puppets in a statement which said they were "doused in blood-like red liquid to symbolise suicide”, according to ANSA news agency.
The "offensive" would not stop until the Equitalia tax agency closed, he said.
Equitalia is widely unpopular in a country where tax evasion is rampant, and has seen violent threats increase as the government cracks down on evaders.
It has also been accused of making mistakes with regular taxpayers.
In December, Equitalia`s director in Rome was wounded after an Italian far-left group sent him a letter bomb which exploded and blew up his glass desk. A second letter bomb in Rome was later intercepted by police.
A note, signed by FAI -- Federazione Anarchica Informale (Informal Federation of Anarchy) -- said their target was "ticks and bloodsuckers”.
In the past few weeks, three local offices have been attacked with Molotov cocktails, staff have been sent letters containing bullets and threatening notes and several offices have been forced to evacuate after bomb scares.
"We are seriously worried, we really hope this isn`t the beginning of something which will endanger us all," said Antonio Crisanti, head of the Perugia office in Umbria, after a bomb scare Wednesday which terrified staff.
While Prime Minister Mario Monti strongly condemned the letter bomb attack on those "doing their duty”, tensions are running high after the government riled Italians by swooping on suspected evaders at the luxury Cortina ski resort.
"Some issues risk increasing the number of violent attacks because we`re heading into a difficult period" as Rome reins in tax dodgers in the fight against the economic crisis, said Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the Democratic Party.
People of Freedom party spokesman Daniele Capezzone said the crackdown was necessary, "but should be conducted with liberal methods and not illiberal ones such as the seizure of property or blocks on current accounts."