Rome 'under attack' from criminals, says mayor

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi (pictured April 11, 2019) said the city is "under attack from criminals that continue to act against citizens" hours after firefighters managed to control a blaze in an eastern suburb (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)

Rome (AFP) - Rome's mayor vowed Friday to defend the Italian capital from criminals following a fire at an illegal landfill, the latest blow to an already beleaguered city.

"Rome is under attack. Under attack from criminals that continue to act against citizens," Virginia Raggi said in a Facebook post hours after firefighters managed to bring the blaze in the eastern suburb of Collatina under control.

"We will not stand by and watch," Raggi said.

"I have declared war several times on the mafia and I'm not afraid: Rome will not remain under the control of these criminals".

The 40-year old, the city's first female mayor, has come in for fierce criticism for the state of the Eternal City, from the streets strewn with rubbish and dotted with potholes, to closed metro stations in the tourists hotspots.

Although the problems stem from before Raggi won the mayorship in 2016, there have been increasing calls for her to resign.

She suffered a further setback last week after far-right leader Matteo Salvini thwarted a proposed measure which would have seen the state take on a large portion of the city's debt.

The dump in the Collatina district, housing everything from broken appliances to building waste, was cordoned off by police in February and was due to be cleaned up by the city next week.

Police said they had opened an arson investigation.

The fire follows two large blaze at Rome waste treatment plants in the past four months, and 600 bins set alight across the city in the past two years.