PARIS. Protesters opened fire with live ammunition at journalists and police on Thursday night on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, leaving dozens of officers seriously injured, a French government official said.
As in Guadeloupe, another French island to the north, protests against Martinique’s coronavirus protocols, which require medical workers to be vaccinated and pass passes to visit most public places, are exacerbated by long-standing frustration and anger over economic inequality with the mainland. The poverty rate in Martinique is 29.8 percent, nearly double the national level in France.
The combination of old grudges and renewed anger over the Covid-19 rules has made the riots particularly volatile.
“These extremely serious actions require unanimous and unequivocal condemnation,” said French Prime Minister Jean Castex. tweet on Friday in response to violent protests in Martinique’s largest city, Fort-de-France.
An attempt was also reported to set fire to the official residence of the highest-ranking French representative on the island. The local police department declined to comment on the post.
Thursday night local authorities announced curfew from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am, “until calm is restored.” The curfew was imposed in response to the Monday night violence.
About 150 people have been arrested in Guadeloupe and Martinique since the beginning of the crisis, according to government spokesman Gabriel Attal. According to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, ten of those arrested were carried out on Thursday evening. tweet, “Everything is done to find the culprit.”
The central government also announced that it will extend the deadline until December 31 for healthcare workers in Martinique and Guadeloupe to complete coronavirus vaccinations.