(CMR) France has sent police special forces to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe amid riots over COVID-19 restrictions. The Associated Press reported that many road blockades by protesters made traveling across the island nearly impossible on Sunday. Firefighters reported 48 interventions overnight into Sunday morning.
In Pointe-a-Pitre, the island's largest urban area, clashes left three people injured, including an 80-year-old woman who was hit by a bullet while on her balcony. A firefighter and a police officer were also injured, and several shops were looted there and in other towns. A police station in Morne-à-l'Eau was set on fire.
Trade unions reportedly called for the protests to denounce France's COVID-19 health pass, which is required to access restaurants and cafes, cultural venues, sports arenas, and long-distance travel.
Demonstrators are also protesting France's mandatory vaccinations for health care workers.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin denounced the violence as “unacceptable” in an interview Sunday. He said 50 officers from police special forces were arriving Sunday in Guadeloupe. They come in addition to 200 other police sent to the Caribbean island from France's mainland.
“The state will stand firm,” he said, adding that at least 31 people have been arrested.
Shots were fired at the police, and cars and buildings were set on fire as the riots continued for three days on Sunday. Road blockades created a “very difficult situation for a few hours,” during which patients and supplies couldn't reach hospitals, Darmanin said Saturday.
Guadeloupe Prefect Alexandre Rochatte has imposed a nightly curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. since Friday.
Rochatte said some electrical facilities near dams have been damaged, which has caused some power outages, and urged people not to go near downed electrical cables.