Europe

Corsica brawl: Five hurt in clashes on French beach

Protesters push up against police in Bastia, Corsica, 14 August Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police could be seen holding back protesters in Bastia on Sunday

A beach brawl on the French island of Corsica between three families of North African descent and local youths has left five people injured and three cars burnt out, regional prosecutors say.

The brawl on Saturday began after the families objected to photos being taken, witnesses say. Stones and bottles were thrown.

Reports say some of the brawlers were armed with hatchets and harpoons.

Unrest continued on Sunday at a protest in the regional capital.

The head of the regional executive, Gilles Simeoni, has appealed for calm.

The incident took place on a creek near the village of Sisco, Upper Corsica.

Tension has grown this summer between local communities and Muslims of North African origin in the south of France, especially following the massacre of 85 people by a lorry driver in the city of Nice on 14 July.

At the end of last month, an outlawed Corsican paramilitary group warned Islamist militants against targeting their island.

Earlier this week, the resort town of Cannes controversially banned the wearing of the Islamic bathing costume for women, the burkini.

'Hatchets and harpoon'

Three of the injured have been released from hospital in Bastia and the other two were due to be sent home shortly, prosecutors said in a statement (in French).

They described the brawl as being of "great violence".

French media report that the trouble began around 18:15 (16:15 GMT) when tourists took photos of women bathing. Reports say the women were wearing burkinis.

Ange Vivoni, mayor of Sisco, told reporters that when a local teenager was stabbed, the victim's "family and all the people of Sisco got together".

According to the newspaper Le Figaro (in French), some of the older men in the bathing party had attacked a group of local teenagers on the beach with hatchets.

When the teenagers' parents arrived from the village, two of them were reportedly injured with harpoons. Villagers allegedly then set alight cars belonging to the bathers.

Another French daily, Le Monde, reports (in French) that one man was injured twice by a harpoon after his son was beaten up. Stones and bottles were also thrown.

Two fathers from among the bathing party were also injured during the brawl, the paper adds.

According to Le Monde newspaper, the three involved in the brawl are all Muslims.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve condemned the violence and also appealed for calm.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The creek where the fight broke out

Hundreds of people held a protest in Bastia, heading for a housing estate, where some of those involved in Saturday's brawl are said to live.

Riot police could be seen pushing them back and tear gas was reportedly fired when stones were thrown.

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