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France

Nantes mayor sues over airport protest

Protests against the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport development turned violent on Saturday.
Protests against the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport development turned violent on Saturday. Reuters/Stephane Mahe

The mayor of the western city of Nantes said he will sue over damage caused during protests on Saturday against a major airport development. Around 20 protesters and 10 police officers were injured when the demonstrations turned violent.

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More than 20,000 people turned out to the largely peaceful protest against the 580-millino euro Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, which was given the final go ahead two months ago.

However, some protesters smashed shop windows, trashed a post office and the local offices of Vinci, the construction contractor. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The socialist mayor of Nantes, Patrick Rimbert, said he is suing “X” – unidentified protesters – as demonstrators had been urged to follow a planned protest route.

The Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, blamed the violence on “far-left” activists and anarchists.

The airport is a pet project of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who was a mayor of Nantes from 1989 to 2012.

The government and supporters say the airport will boost tourism and the economy along France’s Atlantic coast. Opponents, however, say the project is a waste of money, and highlighted the fact that it will be built on protected swampland.

The airport, originally slated to open in 2017, is now unlikely to open before 2019.

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