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France sends special forces to Guadeloupe amid riots over COVID restrictions

Written by on 21/11/2021

France has sent police special forces to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe amid riots over COVID-19 restrictions.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin denounced “unacceptable” violence on the French overseas territory.

He said 50 officers from police special forces would travel to Guadeloupe, in addition to 200 police officers sent from France’s mainland.

A man rides his bicycle past a smoking street barricade after violent demonstrations which broke out over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols
Image: Protests turned to rioting over COVID-19 measures

It comes after several days of protests and road blockades erupted into rioting.

Mr Darmanin told France’s Le Parisien newspaper “some shots have been fired against police officers” in Guadeloupe and there had been looting.

Footage on social media showed cars and buildings had been set on fire, with French media reporting that several buildings in the city centre of Pointe-a-Pitre, the island’s largest city, had been destroyed.

Road blockades had put hospitals in a “very difficult situation for a few hours” with patients and supplies unable to reach them, Mr Darmanin said.

More on Covid-19

“The state will stand firm,” he stressed.

A man rides his bicycle past burned cars after violent demonstrations which broke out over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols
Image: A nightly curfew has been imposed by the authorities

So far at least 31 people have been arrested by the police.

Guadeloupe Prefect Alexandre Rochatte has imposed a nightly curfew from 6pm to 5am.

On Saturday he said some electrical facilities near dams had been damaged, which caused power cuts to some customers.

Guadeloupe riots
Image: Shops have also been looted during the violence

The protests were sparked by trade unions to denounce the coronavirus health pass required to access restaurants, cafes, cultural venues, sports arenas and for long-distance travel.

They were also demonstrating against France’s mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers.

Mr Darmanin said around 80% of healthcare workers on the island had been vaccinated.

 Sky News

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