Troops deployed after travellers besiege French gendarmerie

18th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

About 50 travellers armed with hatchets and iron bars attacked a gendarmerie in central France Sunday after one of their number was shot dead at a road block, officials said.

Troubled flared in the small town of Saint-Aignan, in the Loir-et-Cher region Sunday morning when protesters tried to force their way into the gendarmerie.

In the ensuing unrest they sacked a bakery, torched cars and hacked down trees, traffic lights and road signs.

The attack was believed to be a response to the death of a 22-year-old traveller in the early hours of Saturday, who a gendarme shot dead as he forced a road block.

The town of Saint-Aignan was cordoned off from midday and by Sunday evening 300 soldiers had been deployed to ensure there was no more trouble, local officials said.

The 22-year-old failed to stop his vehicle at a checkpoint, and dragged a gendarme on the bonnet for 500 metres (yards), said prosecutors in the nearby city of Blois. The gendarme escaped with light injuries.

The driver continued to a second checkpoint, where he attempted to charge two gendarmes on duty, one of whom opened fire and killed him.

The two gendarmes were taken into custody after the incident, but released without charge.

"It was a settling of scores between travelling people and the gendarmerie," Saint-Aignan's mayor, Jean-Michel Billon, told AFP.

"The traffic lights have been hacked, trees cut down and burned, and three cars torched," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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