Environmental Project Sparks Violent Clashes Between Police and Protesters in France

Violent clashes erupted between demonstrators and security forces near a disputed reservoir under construction in Saint-Soullin, central-western France, where thousands of protesters have gathered despite a ban on gatherings.

Authorities deployed 3,200 gendarmes and police to cordon off a banned demonstration against the “pools” project, an agricultural reservoir, in anticipation of violence due to tensions over pension reform.

The march began before noon today, Saturday, with at least 6,000 people, according to police, and about 25,000 people, according to organizers.

As the demonstration approached the venue, clashes broke out between the activists and the security forces, extremist activists threw shells and fireworks, the police and gendarmerie responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Within an hour, the surroundings of the project became a battlefield, many explosions were heard, and the demonstrators remained mostly peaceful and watched the clashes from a distance. Several police cars were set on fire.

Then the crowd retreated, and relative calm returned in the afternoon.

According to a source close to the case, several members of the gendarmerie were injured. Police said the injured were being evacuated or were being sought. A photojournalist was shot in the head and organizers said one person was seriously injured.

France has been living at the pace of a mass mobilization against pension reform for weeks now, the adoption of which without a vote in the National Assembly has led to “violent” demonstrations in a number of French cities marred by violence.

Source: AFP

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