French police clashed for hours with revelers in an illegal 1,500-person rave over the weekend, with one reveler losing a hand and five police officers injured.
A local official, Emmanuel Berthier, said revelers threw “Molotov cocktails, metal marbles and pieces of cinder block” at officers during “very violent clashes” in western France.
The unrest began on Friday night when crowds braved a coronavirus curfew at 11 p.m. and police then fired tear gas to disperse them, sparking more than seven hours of violence, Berthier said.
He said 400 officers were involved in fighting the unrest that continued on Saturday afternoon in an area near Redon in Brittany. Berthier declared that “the people had an objective, to confront the forces of public order”.
Police said they arrested five men and opened an investigation into violence against people in positions of public authority.
An officer said it was unusual for people to bring the metal balls used in the French sport of pétanque or pétanque to a rave.
Two revelers were injured, including a 22-year-old man who lost a hand, but no further details were available. Authorities said five police officers were injured, two of whom were taken to hospital.
Organizers of the event said police chose violence over dialogue by firing tear gas canisters.
“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 was lifted as the number of Covid-19 cases fell in France.
The rave was originally held in memory of a young man killed two years ago in the nearby city of Nantes during the annual nationwide celebration of the Fête de la Musique.
Prosecutors said on Friday Steve Maia Canico fell into the Loire when police intervened to disperse the rally.
His body was found more than a month later and protesters in Nantes demanded “Justice for Steve”, arguing that the police intervention was disproportionate.