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10 Apr, 2018 10:57

Police vs eco-activists: Tense standoff in France as violence flares for 2nd day (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Violence is flaring in western France for the second day as police attempt to raze an anarchist commune on the site of an abandoned airport. Squatters threw Molotov cocktails at officers, who responded with tear gas.

Law enforcement officials were mobilized for evictions in Notre-Dame-des-Landes commune, 20km from the city of Nantes on Monday. Some 250 activists occupied the 1,650-hectare site, once reserved for a proposed airport, calling it their “Zone a Defendre” (Zone to be Defended). The illegal occupants of the anarchist commune demanded the right to stay after creating a so-called “self-governing utopia.”

On Tuesday, tensions continued with Molotov cocktails flying through clouds of tear gas, local media reported. The protesters set up barricades made of tires and electricity poles in an effort to keep the police at bay.    

“Things are going to be more complicated [on Tuesday], the Pays-de-la-Loire regional prefect said, adding that on Monday police deployed some 2,500 officers to evict the camp residents.

RT’s Charlotte Dubenskij and the Ruptly crew were caught up in the action amid the standoff between police officers and eco-squatters.

READ MORE: Clashes, tear gas as French police move in to break up environmentalist camp (VIDEO)

Environmental activists have protested against the construction of the airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes since 2008. Supporters of the project argued it would boost economic development in Pays-de-la-Loire, while opponents claimed it was too environmentally unfriendly.

After long debates, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced in January that France would abandon the project.

“This is the logical decision given the dead-end in which this project has found itself,” Philippe stated. Authorities later ordered the activists to evacuate the area by March 31 or otherwise face eviction.

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