France to send special forces to Guadeloupe after looting, arson

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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.

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.”

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 stated.

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.

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

A 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.

Guadeloupe Prefect, Alexandre Rochatte, who represents the French government on the archipelago, on Friday had imposed a curfew from 6pm to 5am following five days of civil unrest during which barricades burned in the streets and firefighters and doctors walked out on strike.

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