Charred car are pictured in a s street of Le Gosier, Guadeloupe island, Sunday, Nov.21, 2021. French authorities sent police special forces to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, an overseas territory of France, as protests over COVID-19 restrictions erupted into rioting and looting for the third day in a row. On Sunday, many road blockades by protesters made traveling across the island nearly impossible. (AP Photo/Elodie Soupama)
Ten police officers were injured and several journalists shot at as protests sparked by Covid-19 vaccine measures spread across Martinique.
This follows more than a week of unrest on the nearby French island of Guadeloupe.
According to police reports, five officers were injured during a fun battle in Martinique and five others were injured when objects were thrown at them during operations.
Concerning the journalists – four were shot at by men on a motorbike as they worked Fort-de-France but none were injured.
A French government spokesman Gabriel Attal the unrest is “totally unacceptable” and promised that the rioters will be “dealt with”.
The protests on Guadeloupe were started by hardline opponents of compulsory vaccination for health workers and firefighters on the island – a measure already implemented in mainland France.
The protests, which saw barricades set up on roads, have since morphed into a larger movement to express frustration at alleged neglect of the islands by the authorities in Paris.
The unrest is taking place as vaccination rates in the territories trail those on the mainland.
Strict night curfews were recently announced in both Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The leaders of the protest movement on Guadeloupe have asked for obligatory vaccinations to be dropped on the island – but this has been ruled out by the French government.
In an effort to address the situation, hundreds of police reinforcements have also been sent to the islands.
To quell the violence, France’s government is offering to discuss some autonomy for Guadeloupe, according to the Associated Press.
The overnight offer by the government minister for overseas affairs, Sebastien Lecornu, drew sharp criticism Saturday from conservative and far right candidates for France’s April presidential election.
“Some officials have asked the question of autonomy,” Lecornu said in a televised address Friday night to Guadeloupe residents. “According to them, Guadeloupe could manage itself better” than it is managed from Paris, and they notably want more autonomy to manage health-related issues locally, he said. “The government is ready to talk about it.”
He denounced rioters whose pillaging is hurting local merchants and workers, and whose road barricades are preventing some patients from getting medical treatment and forced schools to close. But he also acknowledged “structural issues” behind the anger, and called for a “collective” response.