POINTE-A-PITRE — The French overseas territory of Guadeloupe was hit by a third night of looting and rioting amid protests against COVID-19 measures, with gunmen shooting at police and firefighters, the authorities said on Sunday.
Police arrested 38 people as shops were broken into and cars set ablaze.
Special police forces were due to arrive from mainland France to the Caribbean archipelago on Sunday to restore order.
“This situation cannot be accepted nor tolerated,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Europe 1 radio.
Guadeloupe’s prefect, Alexandre Rochatte, who represents the French government, said in a statement that armed groups had tried to loot stores in Pointe-a-Pitre, Basse-Terre and Lamentin and battled police.
Shots were fired at police and firemen trying to put out blazes. Four pharmacies were broken into and cars set on fire while barricades were erected to stop security forces from intervening, the prefect added.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Saturday that France would send about 50 members of the GIGN and RAID elite tactical forces of the gendarmerie and police to the territory.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is also due to meet on Monday in Paris with Guadeloupe officials to discuss the situation.
Rochatte on Friday had imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m following five days of civil unrest during which barricades burned in the streets and firefighters and doctors walked out on strike.
Trade unions started an indefinite strike on Monday to protest the compulsory vaccination of health workers against COVID-19 and health pass requirements. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Angus MacSwan)