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Tear gas, petrol bombs as French police clear ‘eco-camp’

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A protester stands in tear gas’ smoke during clashes with on April 10, 2018 during a police operation to raze the decade-old camp known as ZAD (Zone a Defendre – Zone to defend) at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near the western city of Nantes, and evict the last of the protesters who had refused to leave despite the government agreeing to ditch a proposed airport. In January, the government jettisoned plans for an airport that had divided the local community for nearly half a century, and told the protesters to clear off the farmland by spring. But some of the motley group of eco-warriors, anti-capitalists and farmers who had turned the 1,600-hectare (4,000-acre) site into a utopian experiment in autonomous living had demanded the right to stay put. The government said the main aim of the operation was to retake control of a key road that had been blocked for five years and evict around 100 “of the most radical” squatters from a total of around 250. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE

French police battled Tuesday to evict anti-airport protesters and the creators of an alternative anti-capitalist settlement in western France during a second day of clashes.

Some 2,500 officers raided the decade-old camp at Notre-Dame-des-Landes on Monday, destroying makeshift buildings topped with corrugated iron, a giant tent, a watchtower, and a sheep shed and cheese-making area.

The assault in a wooded area near the city of Nantes has seen dozens of rounds of tear gas fired, as well as stun grenades, while the occupants and demonstrators have responded by throwing petrol bombs and rocks at the security forces.

The activists have used tractors and burning barricades of tyres, wooden pallets, hay bales and electricity poles in an effort to keep the police at bay.

Two policemen suffered minor injuries on Tuesday, a security source told AFP, while around six demonstrators were hurt.

Activists opposed to the building of an airport began squatting on the farmland in 2008 and have since built up a community they bill as a model of sustainable farming and political debate.

In January, the government scrapped plans for the airport and told the protesters to clear out by spring.

The government has said the main aim of the operation is to retake control of a key road that runs through the area that has been blocked for five years.


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