Sunday, November 21, 2021

France to send special forces to Guadeloupe after looting, arson | Al Jazeera

France is sending dozens of police special forces to restore order in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe following rioting and looting amid protests against COVID-19 measures.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said France will send about 50 members of the GIGN and RAID elite tactical forces of the gendarmerie and police to the overseas territory, where stores have been looted, shots fired at police, and 31 people were arrested overnight.

The extra forces will increase the number of police and gendarmes available in Guadeloupe to 2,250, Darmanin said.

“The first message is that the state will stand firm,” he said.

The deployment comes after days of unrest, with protesters gathering in several towns in defiance of an overnight curfew imposed to quell the violence.

“The night was very turbulent,” a police source told the AFP news agency.

The security forces recorded “some 20 incidents of looting or attempted robbery” in the seaside towns of Pointe-a-Pitre and Le Gosier, including at a jewellery shop, a bank, a betting shop and a shopping centre, the source said.

In the town of Saint-Francois to the east, “gendarmes coming out of the station were threatened by blazing projectiles”.

“Firearms were used against police forces in four different areas” across the island, the source added, with one officer slightly wounded after a stone hit him in the face.

A second source within the gendarmerie said an armoury had been looted.

In the area of Le Petit-Bourg to the west, firefighters had to put out fires in two mobile phone stores, which had also been plundered.

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