French Police Use Force to Disperse Catalan Protesters From Blocked Highway - Reports

© AP Photo / Joan MateuFrench police officers remove pro-Catalan independence demonstrators blocking a major highway border pass near La Jonquera between Spain and France, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019
French police officers remove pro-Catalan independence demonstrators blocking a major highway border pass near La Jonquera between Spain and France, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The French law enforcement on Tuesday used batons and fired pepper spray to disperse protesters from the busy highway that connects France to Spain and has been blocked for already over 24 hours by a radical Catalan pro-independence group, Spanish and French media reported.

According to France-3 broadcaster, at about 8 a.m. local time [07:00 GMT] a hundred officers of the anti-riot French National Police and National Gendarmerie intervened, and by 9.30 a.m. the protesters were sandwiched at La Jonquera junction point between France and Spain with the French gendarmerie on one side and the Spanish police on the other.

In a live broadcast from the spot by Le Figaro, law enforcement can be seen equipped with batons and slowly marching against the protesters in a bid to make them walk backward. Some police officers can be seen dragging those protesters who apparently refused to walk back.

According to El Pais, police used pepper spray, and the Vanguardia newspaper claimed that the law enforcement fired tear gas to make the protesters leave.

On Monday, the pro-independence group Democratic Tsunami began its blockade of the border crossing where Spain's AP7 highway joins France’s A9, intending to uphold it for three days. They installed barricades and bulked up cars, paralyzing the traffic completely from the French town of Narbonne all the way to the Spanish border. Police were dispatched at the scene, but did not intervene until Tuesday morning.

Pro-independence protests in Catalonia began in mid-October as the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalans to lengthy prison terms over their involvement in the 2017 Catalan independence forum.

What started as a general strike in Barcelona soon grew into public unrest and violent riots. Protesters were blocking roads by barricades, setting these barricades on fire, ripping off the street signs, breaking the windows of nearby stores and eventually clashed with law enforcement near the National Police building. They threw bricks, bottles, crackers and other objects onto the police and burned carton boxes. Police had to fire rubber bullets and tear gas to constrain them, as well as use water cannons to fight the fire.

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