‘It was war’: partygoer loses hand amid clashes with French police at illegal rave

French police clashed for hours with partygoers at a 1,500-strong illegal rave over the weekend, with one partygoer losing a hand and five officers injured.

Local official Emmanuel Berthier said partygoers threw “Molotov cocktails, metal balls and bits of breeze blocks” at officers during “very violent clashes” in western France.

The unrest began on Friday night when the crowd defied an 11pm coronavirus curfew and police then fired teargas to disperse them, sparking more than seven hours of violence, Berthier said.

He said 400 officers were involved in tackling the unrest that continued into Saturday afternoon in an area near Redon in Brittany. Berthier said the “people had an objective, to confront the forces of public order”.

Police said they had detained five men and opened an inquiry into violence against people in positions of public authority.

Police officers evacuate partygoers after an illegal rave in a field in Redon, north-western France.
Police officers evacuate partygoers after an illegal rave in a field in Redon, north-western France. Photograph: Loïc Venance/AFP/Getty Images

One officer said it was unusual for people to bring the metal balls used in the French sport of boules or petanque to a rave.

Two partygoers were hurt, including a 22-year-old man who lost a hand, but no further details were available. According to the authorities, five police officers were injured, two of whom were taken to hospital.

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

“It was war,” said Flo, a 22-year-old man who attended the event.

Local authorities had banned the party on Friday, 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 two years ago in the nearby city of Nantes during the annual nationwide Fete de la Musique celebration.

Empty tear gas canisters are seen on the grass during an illegal rave in Redon.
Empty tear gas canisters are seen on the grass during an illegal rave in Redon. Photograph: Loïc Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Prosecutors said on Friday that Steve Maia Canico fell into the Loire river when police moved in 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.

source: theguardian.com