French special forces head to Guadeloupe amid COVID corridor riots
Paris – French authorities are sending police special forces to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, France’s overseas territory, where protests over COVID-19 restrictions erupted into riots.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin denounced the “unacceptable” violence in an interview with Le Parisien published on Sunday. He said 50 police special forces officers were due to arrive in Guadeloupe. They come in addition to 200 other policemen who were sent to the Caribbean island from mainland France.
The move comes after several days of protests and road closures.
“Some shots were fired at police officers” in Guadeloupe and there was looting, Darmanin said after an emergency meeting on Saturday in Paris. Videos posted on social media showed street equipment, cars and some buildings on fire.
French media said several buildings in the center of Pointe-a-Pitre, the island’s largest city, had been destroyed.
On Saturday, Darmanin said road closures had put hospitals in a “very difficult situation for a few hours” during which patients and supplies were unable to get to hospitals, in particular resulting in no meals being served.
“The state will stand firm,” he said, adding that police have arrested at least 31 people.
Guadeloupe Governor Alexandre Rochat has imposed a nightly curfew from 6pm to 5am since Friday.
Rochatte said in a statement on Saturday that some electrical installations near the dams were damaged, causing outages for some customers. He warned of the dangers of electrocution to residents near dams and urged people not to touch electrical cables.
Trade unions have called for protests to denounce the COVID-19 health card required for access to restaurants, cafes, cultural venues, sports arenas and long-distance travel. Demonstrators are also protesting against mandatory vaccinations in France for healthcare workers.
The scroll shows that people have been fully vaccinated, have recently had a negative test or evidence of a recent COVID-19 recovery.
Darmanin said about 80% of health care workers on the island have been vaccinated.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.