France sent a group of dozens of elite security force officers to its overseas territory of Guadeloupe on Saturday after protests against coronavirus rules turned violent.
The deployment follows almost a week of unrest on the Caribbean island which included the burning of barricades in the street.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said around 50 agents from the GIGN counter-terrorism and RAID elite tactical forces would be sent to Guadeloupe.
“The first message is that the state will stand firm,” Darmanin told reporters after a crisis meeting.
Although almost 70% of the population of mainland France is already fully vaccinated, in Guadeloupe the share is less than 50%.
Riots and strikes
Alexander Rochatte, the island’s prefect, instituted an overnight curfew between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Friday following days of protest.
Police arrested 31 people in the subsequent protests which also included looting and arson.
The island territory was also facing strikes from firefighters and doctors. Trade unions launched indefinite labor action against compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for health workers as well as general requirements for vaccine passes on Monday.
AFP reported that an armory belonging to the gendarmerie had been looted and cited a source saying that “firearms were used against police forces in four different areas.”
Anti-lockdown unrest returns
While European countries are already administering third booster shots, some less wealthy countries are contending with very low rates of vaccination.
Guadeloupe is part of France, but its vaccination rate is on par with that of other nearby Caribbean islands.
ab/wd (Reuters, AFP)