PARIS (AP) — French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday that shots were fired overnight at security forces and journalists on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, as violence erupted amid protests over COVID-19 restrictions.
Several police officers have been injured, Darmanin tweeted. He added that 10 people have been arrested.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal denounced the “unacceptable” violence.
Martinique’s protesters joined this week in a movement launched by labor unions in the neighboring island of Guadeloupe to denounce France’s COVID-19 pass and mandatory vaccination for health care workers. The pass is required to access restaurants and cafes, cultural venues, sport arenas and long-distance travel.
Like in Guadeloupe, Martinique protesters have set up blockades to prevent road travel across the island.
Overnight violence has also seen cars being set on fire and looting in several places. Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse crowds.
The Prefect of Martinique, Stanislas Cazelles, imposed on Thursday a 7 p.m-5 a.m. curfew until the situation gets calmer.
Attal said several dozens of police officers have been injured and around 150 people have been arrested in Guadeloupe and Martinique since the beginning of the protests last week.
Demonstrators in the French Caribbean islands are also angry over deep-seated economic, social and racial inequality, and expanded their demands to include a general salary increase, higher unemployment benefits and the hiring of more teachers.
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