France arrests 7 Italian leftist militants

France has arrested seven fugitive Italian leftist militants after harboring them for decades, following their conviction in Italy on terrorism charges.

Italy has been fighting for the extradition of dozens of leftist guerrillas, who had been given refuge in France, after the so-called Years of Lead.

The period -- from the late 1960s to the 1980s -- saw extreme social and political conflict in Italy.

Hundreds of people were murdered in bombings, assassinations and street warfare by rival far-right and far-left factions.

Those arrested include Giorgio Pietrostefani, a co-founder of a far-left group.

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in the 1972 murder of Milan police commissioner Luigi Calabresi.

Police said the other six were members of the Red Brigades - all sentenced to life in prison for taking part in various murders and kidnappings.

Many Italian leftist militants fled to France during the Years of Lead, where Socialist President Francois Mitterrand pursued a policy of granting asylum to those who renounced violence.

French governments later abandoned that policy, but Italy nonetheless struggled to convince Paris to hand over even those convicted of murder.

Current Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who has established a close working relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron, welcomed the action, and Macron's office said the arrests followed months of discussions between the two countries.