Elite forces deployed to Guadeloupe as French ministers condemn Covid riots

·1-min read

Ongoing violent Covid protests in the French territory of Guadeloupe over the weekend have been described as "intolerable and unacceptable" by the French government, which says heavy-handed police reinforcements will arrive on Sunday.

Guadeloupe is feared to be on the verge of a large-scale social conflict as those against health pass rules and compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers continue their unrest.

Four days of demonstrations, road blockades and scenes of urban violence prompted authorities to impose a nationwide curfew that took effect Friday night.

Walls of wooden pallets, concrete blocks and corrugated iron sheets have been erected by protests to prevent police from getting through.

Hospitals suffering

Hospital workers say the road blocks are preventing them from getting to hospitals to treat their patients.

"In the operating room, we can't run the operating rooms as usual, we practically only do emergencies, and everything that was scheduled gets cancelled," a surgical intern told France Info.

"As a result, there are a lot of patients waiting to have their surgery and can't get it."

The rioters looted jewellery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies and set fire to six buildings in the city centre of Pointe-à-Pitre. Four of the buildings were destroyed.

Thirty-seven people have been arrested following clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators. Many schools have been closed, as well as post offices and courts.

Public prosecutors have opened two investigations for "degradation by fire in organised gang, and robberies with degradation in organised gang”.

Crisis talks were held late Saturday by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the Minister of Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu to determine “what new measures may be taken”.

The curfew between 6pm and 5am will remain in place until 23 November.

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