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Mega basins in Sainte-Soline: return in pictures to the clashes that turned into chaos


The prohibited demonstration against a water reservoir in Deux-Sèvres gathered 30,000 people on Saturday according to its organizers and 6,000 people according to the prefecture.

A new banned protest against basins led to violent clashes on Saturday in Sainte-Soline, Deux-Sèvres, where thousands of people converged, including many radical activists, eclipsing the debate on water sharing .

Protesters watch a police vehicle burn this Saturday March 25, 2023. THIBAUD MORITZ

A vehicle of the French gendarmerie burns during clashes this Saturday March 25, 2023. PASCAL LACHENAUD

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denounced, on twitter, a “

surge of intolerable violence

”, questioning “

the irresponsibility of the radical speeches which encourage these actions


An injured protester's leg.


According to a last count provided by the Niort prosecutor's office, the emergency services took care of seven injured demonstrators, including three treated in absolute urgency and hospitalized;

28 gendarmes were injured, including two hospitalized in absolute emergency.

Two journalists were hit.

Read alsoMega-basins: a photographer from the South West burned in the hands by a Molotov cocktail

The organizers evoke a much heavier toll, with 200 demonstrators injured.

The prosecution, which opened an investigation, for the first time indicated that a protester in a coma was between life and death.

Gendarmes stand next to burning gendarme cars.


At least 6,000 people according to the prefecture, up to 30,000 according to the organizers - the collective of associations "

Bassines non merci

", the environmental movement of the Uprisings of the Earth and the Peasant Confederation - converged on a basin under construction in Sainte- Soline, with the aim of "


" the construction of this open-air reservoir, intended for agricultural irrigation, which has been disputed for a long time.

They found in front of them more than 3000 gendarmes and police mobilized to defend the site, the authorities denouncing the presence in the procession "

of at least a thousand violent activists

", "

ready to do battle


Mobile gendarmes in quads fire tear gas canisters in the direction of the demonstrators.


Authorities and organizers blame each other for the clashes.

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, denounced the "


" violence of

the "far left

", while the organizers blamed "

absolutely criminal violence

" by the police.

The national secretary of EELV Marine Tondelier, present in the procession, most of which remained peaceful, denounced to AFP the firing of grenades towards injured people and the intervention of quads, "a kind of BRAV-

M of the fields

", alluding to a controversial motorized police unit.

Clashes between police and demonstrators.


Clashes between police and demonstrators.


Approaching the site, which looks like a medieval bastion with its embankment surrounded by the police, violent clashes took place for an hour, transforming the place into a scene of war, with loud detonations and vehicles in fire.

The assailants used "

firework mortars, Roman candles and high-capacity molotov cocktails

" among other projectiles, according to the gendarmerie who responded with 4,000 grenades of tear gas and disencirclement, and using LBDs .

No arrests could be made during the demonstration, according to the prosecution.

Eleven people had been arrested upstream during checks which led to the seizure of numerous weapons.

Violent clashes occurred that turned the demonstration into a scene of war, with loud detonations and vehicles on fire.


Before leaving the scene, the demonstrators claim to have damaged a pump and a pipe in the basin.

We will continue the fight

,” organizers said in the nearby village of Melle, where an “

international water forum

” is being held in parallel until Sunday.

Read alsoIn Sainte-Soline, clashes over a basin

The Sainte-Soline basin is part of a set of 16 reservoirs, with a total capacity of six million cubic meters, programmed by a cooperative of 450 farmers with state support.

They aim to store water drawn from surface water tables in winter, in order to irrigate crops in summer when rainfall is scarce.

Its supporters make it a condition for the survival of farms in the face of the threat of recurring droughts.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-26

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