France: Police clash with protesters at the Champs-Élysées
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Chaos broke out in France today as hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Bastia, a city on the island of Corsica. The nationalist protesters took to the streets this afternoon as local anger intensified following similar violence on Wednesday this week. Protesters demanded a response after nationalist figure and Corsican separatist Yvan Colonna was attacked in prison eleven days ago.
The attack left Mr Colonna in a coma, sparking anger among locals who view him as a hero in a fight for independence.
Prior to the violence, around 10,000 people attended a peaceful march in support of Mr Colonna in Bastia.
Protesters held up banners calling the attack a French state-sanctioned assassination.
The scene quickly turned violent as activists tweeted scenes of the chaos, adding: “This is not #Ukraine, this is #France. The situation is out of control #Bastia.”
Another French activist Thibault Penet added that “state buildings were being targeted by Molotov cocktails”.
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Protesters even stormed and set fire to the Department of Public Finances.
Local media Corse Matin tweeted that the police were “overwhelmed” by the protesters.
In response to the Molotov cocktails, police fired tear gas at the demonstrators.
According to TV channel France 3 Corse, “six people have been injured in violent incidents” including five riot police officers.
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Marité Costa, 58, told the AFP at the rally: “We came for what is happening in Corsica, the French state which denies the Corsican people, for the release of all Corsican prisoners.
“They say ‘Young people are thugs’, but they’re not thugs, they fight.
“It’s thanks to them that things have moved, because Macron, he doesn’t care, even one month before the elections.”
The protesters originally erupted on Wednesday when thousands demonstrated in the main Corsican cities of Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia.
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Yvan Colonna is a Corsican separatist convicted for the assassination in 1998 of Corsica’s top regional official Claude Erigna.
Mr Colonna, who is serving a life sentence, was jailed in the south of France despite his wish to be transferred to Corsica.
In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Jean Castex on Tuesday removed his “special status detainee” but the move was seen as too little too late by activists.
During a speech in Paris, the leader of the far-right National Rally, Marine Le Pen, said that she “understood the anger” of the protesters.
The presidential rival of Emmanuel Macron accused French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti of “gross misconduct”.
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