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France

Violence spreads to island of Reunion

Latest update : 2009-03-11

Protests over the cost of living have spread from the French Caribbean to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. Police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing youths near the island's capital Saint-Denis on Thursday.

AFP - Police fired tear gas Thursday to disperse stone-throwing youths on the French island of Reunion as protests over the cost of living spread from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean.

Hooded youths set up a roadblock near Reunion's capital, Saint-Denis, and a separate demonstration in the city forced a supermarket to close when protestors tried to burst in.

Several thousand people marched in Saint-Denis and the town of Saint-Pierre to voice complaints similar to those of their fellow French citizens in the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

They say they face higher prices, higher unemployment and lower salaries than counterparts in France.

Thursday's incidents on Reunion, an island of around 800,000 people that lies to the east of Madagascar, came as a 44-day general strike ended in Guadeloupe with a promise of pay rises.

The six-week struggle, which saw one activist shot dead by protesters and hundreds of extra police deployed from France, ended with a 165-point deal on measures to improve living standards on the island.

A general strike on nearby Martinique entered its second month on Thursday. Trade unions in Reunion have called for a strike to start on their island next Tuesday.

Date created : 2009-03-06