Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Guadeloupe protests turn deadly

French policemen stand in front of burning cars in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, 18 February 2009
Protesters threw stones at lines of police from behind burning barricades

France has appealed for calm on its Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after a local official died during protests against the rising cost of living.

The union representative was shot dead as he drove up to a barricade set up by youths in Guadeloupe's biggest town, Pointe-a-Pitre, local officials said.

Earlier, police had responded after coming under a barrage of stones from protesters who burned cars in the town.

Several were reportedly injured as police used tear gas to disperse them.

In recent days, the month-long general strike on Guadeloupe has spread to the French island of Martinique, 160km (100 miles) to the south, where looting has been reported amid thousands-strong rallies demanding higher wages.


Violence would not solve the problem, government spokesman Luc Chatel told Europe-1 radio, urging both workers and employers to resume stalled salary negotiations.

Mr Chatel said a return to calm was "the most important thing".

The protests and strikes have brought the islands to a standstill. They escalated on Tuesday night as protesters burned cars and looted buildings in Pointe-a-Pitre and Sainte-Anne.

Three police were injured as they came under fire from the looters and more than a dozen arrests were made.


Guadeloupe's airport was closed on Tuesday as workers could not pass through debris-clogged roads.

Thousands of tourists - an important source of revenue - have cancelled their holidays in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The islands have a high cost of living and use the euro.

Correspondents say many residents feel their salaries are not keeping up with rising prices.

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Taipei Times Online French authorities face third night of Guadeloupe unrest - 2 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Guadeloupe talks on as Sarkozy aims to quell unrest - 4 hrs ago
Sky News Paradise Lost: Tourists Leave Riot Islands - 13 hrs ago
CNN French police to tackle Guadeloupe violence - 13 hrs ago
The EconomistThe restless Caribbean: Unhappy islanders - 16 hrs ago
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