Venice, Venice

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VENICE: Six armed separatists took over the bell tower in St. Mark's Square for a few hours early Friday morning to proclaim independence for Venice. Although the group had brought enough supplies for a long stay in the tower, they barely had time to hang out a banner proclaiming their new "Serenissima Repubblica," as the old Venetian republic was called, before police forces scaled the 350-foot building and hauled the men away. Two other separatists were arrested in a mock armored car positioned in the square. No one was injured in the raid. The Northern League, a separatist group which has declared the creation of an independent northern republic, denied all responsibility for the siege.