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Guadeloupe youths clash with police
by Warren Chingan

The Associated Press    Translate This Article
25 November 2005

POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe (AP) - Youths set up flaming tire barricades and threw rocks at police Friday in clashes sparked by a motorcycle crash at a police checkpoint in Guadeloupe.

The protests came 10 days after violence between youths and police struck the capital, Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French Caribbean island.

Some residents said the youths wanted to copy the unrest occurring in French slums, where many French Caribbean people live. Others said it was a reprisal for the arrest of two alleged drug dealers.

The violence in Guadeloupe resumed in a poor section of nearby Baie-Mahault late Wednesday after a rumor spread that police were responsible for an accident in which a 20-year-old man was injured when he crashed into an oncoming vehicle.

The youths said Steven Fulchere lost control of his motorcycle when police sprang out of the darkness, startling him. Police said he fled to avoid the checkpoint.

Fulchere was hospitalized in critical condition in the capital. A rumor spread that he had died, and late Thursday bands of young men set fire to tires and garbage in the streets of Baie-Mahault, which is Guadeloupe's main commercial port.

The bands, which had been pelting police officers and firefighters with rocks and bottles, were dispersed with tear gas. Police said they detained seven young men.

``A rumor ignited these disturbances,'' and the perpetrators will be prosecuted, said local prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre.

On Nov. 15, youths in the capital set car and garbage fires that led to an exchange of gunfire between locals and authorities and left one policeman injured.

Many residents said they believed the young people were fed up with prostitution and drug dealing in the neighborhood, as well as squalid living conditions.

Guadeloupe has a population of 420,000. Its unemployment rate is 39 percent.

Copyright© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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