Alarm in France after 2,500 mass for illegal rave
Some 2,500 partygoers attended an illegal New Year rave in northwestern France, violently clashing with police who failed to stop it and sparking concern the underground event could spread the coronavirus, authorities said on Jan. 1.
The revelers 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 gendarmes 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, the statement said.
Those present had come from across France and even abroad, it said.
By Friday evening, the sound of techno music could still be heard from the party venue, though police were preventing any newcomers from joining the rave, according to an AFP photographer.
"Police controls are taking place around the site. Verbal warnings are being given to everyone leaving," the police said on social media.
Speaking later on BFM TV, interior ministry spokeswoman Camille Chaize said there had been "great hostility, great violence" against the forces of law and order, without indicating when the police would be able enter the rave site.
Such mass gatherings are strictly prohibited across France to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and a nationwide 8:00 pm curfew - which was not lifted for New Year - applies across the country.
Reports said that the rave party took place in an empty warehouse belonging to a storage company.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the illegal organization of a musical gathering and premeditated violence against persons in authority.