Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )
Local police tried to "prevent this event but faced fierce hostility from many partygoers" who set one of their cars of fire and threw bottles and stones
A massive rave party in northwestern France that disregarded all coronavirus norms has sent alarm bells ringing in the country. The partygoers, about 2500 of them, violently clashed with police who unsuccessfully tried to prevent and stop the party. The party took place on New Year's Eve and went on beyond the nationwide curfew of 8 pm.
The revellers had set up the illegal rave in Lieuron south of Rennes in Brittany after skirmishes with police, said a statement from the local prefecture. Many were still on the site Friday as a sanitary cordon was thrown up around it.
Local police tried to "prevent this event but faced fierce hostility from many partygoers" who set one of their cars of fire and threw bottles and stones, it said.
Such mass gatherings are strictly prohibited across France in accordance with coronavirus restrictions. The attendees had come from across France and even from abroad.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the illegal organisation of a musical gathering and premeditated violence against persons in authority.
Vehicles registered from all over France were still parked at the site Friday and many revellers were present as techno music thudded away, an AFP journalist said.
'Little social distancing'
Participants interviewed by AFP said that the revellers had included partygoers from foreign countries, including Spain and Britain.
One participant, who gave his name as Jo from the Alsace region of eastern France and refused to be identified further, said they had all met at a meeting point on Thursday evening in the parking lot of a shopping centre.
Then the convoy headed for Lieuron where the police tried to prevent them from passing, he said.
He acknowledged that "very few had respected social distancing" at the event, which was supposed only to end later on Saturday.
French authorities have been particularly concerned about mass wildcat rave parties throughout the pandemic but New Year's night was a particular concern.
In the southern city of Marseille, security forces halted an illegal party grouping some 300 people, police said. Over 150 people were warned and the three suspected organisers have been arrested.
(With AFP inputs)