Calais ‘Jungle’ migrants block motorway in violent confrontation with French police

© Pascal Rossignol
Police have used tear gas to disperse hundreds of Calais ‘Jungle’ migrants who blocked the main road to the Channel Tunnel in a bid to board lorries bound for the UK. The road remained closed for hours as refugees clashed with French law enforcers.

The trouble started at around 15:00 near Calais when a gang of migrants and local activists began a wave of attacks on motorists, including English and Welsh football fans heading to support their teams during the group stages of Euro 2016, local media reported.

Just now at #calais .... tear gas and hundreds of migrants around our car.

A video posted by Becky Weatherley (@beckyweatherley) on

Those attacked reported via social media that migrants were shouting “f*** the UK,” as they hurled rocks at cars, trying to boards vehicles headed for England. Motorists stuck in heavy traffic warned of being “stoned” by migrants and urged others returning to the UK to avoid Calais.

Authorities were forced to close the main A16 highway for more than four hours as police battled up to 300 Calais Jungle migrants and refugee activists. Police were forced to put up barriers and fire more than 600 tear gas grenades to disperse the crowd.

Several people managed to board trucks and tried to cut through the tarpaulin of the trailers to hide inside, AFP reported, forcing police to respond.

“Police personnel have been deployed in numbers and had to use tear gas to evict migrants from the roadway. At the same time controls have been strengthened all across the port of Calais,” a Calais police spokesman told France 3 TV channel.

The clashes abated around 19:00 with traffic reopened two hours later.

The violence caused no serious injuries, according to the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais, which earlier reported, however, that several security officers had been slightly injured during. The clashes resulted in a number of arrests, including the detention of two members of the left-wing anarchist group No Borders.

READ MORE: Calais migrants camp alive despite clampdown, asylum seekers flood other coastal towns

Around 6,000 migrants currently remain in Calais, hoping to cross the English Channel to the UK. Only 1,000 are currently staying in government provided lodging. Most migrants are living in improvised shelters and tents.