Several hurt as French police break up mass rave

Five police officers were injured overnight in western France as they broke up a 1,500-strong illegal rave, authorities said Saturday, with one partygoer losing a hand in the clashes.

Defying an 11:00 pm coronavirus curfew, the group had attempted to set up the party at a horse racing track near Redon in Brittany.

There were “very violent clashes” when 400 police intervened, local prefect Emmanuel Berthier said, adding the violence lasted more than seven hours through the night.

Two of the five injured police officers had to be taken to the hospital in Redon, Berthier said.

He said the “people had an objective, to confront the forces of public order.”

A police officer said it was not usual for people to bring the metal balls used in the French sport of boules or petanque to a rave.

Berthier told AFP that the group threw “Molotov cocktails, metal balls and pieces of breeze block”.

They added that one of the partygoers, a 22-year-old man, had lost a hand in the violence.

Event organisers said police had chosen violence instead of dialogue by firing tear gas grenades.

“There hasn’t been any music since last night,” but “people taking part in the illegal rave are still on the scene,” the prefect’s office told AFP early Saturday.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin cancelled events he had planned and was regularly keeping abreast of the situation, aides said.

Local authorities had on Friday issued a legal order against the party, which came two days before the coronavirus curfew is set to be lifted as Covid-19 case numbers fall in France.

The rave had originally been set up in memory of a young man killed in nearby city Nantes two years ago during France’s annual nationwide Fete de la Musique celebration.

Prosecutors said Friday that according to an investigation Steve Maia Canico fell into the Loire river when police moved to break up the gathering.

His body was found more than a month later and protesters in Nantes have demanded “Justice for Steve,” saying the police intervention was disproportionate. 

In early May, officials said, hundreds of people flouted France’s coronavirus curfew with underground parties near Dijon and a village in western Brittany, while police managed to prevent organisers from staging a mass rave in Paris.

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