A high ranking police officer and a winegrower were killed during angry clashes in the south of France on Thursday (4 March) over cheap Italian wine imports.
GV Demonstrators in street
SV Winegrowers in street (2 shots)
GV PAN Vehicles on motorway above demonstration site
LV Demonstrators running along street by fallen power pole
MV Police vehicles rushing to demonstration scene (2 shots)
GV PAN Toll gate (3 shots)
SV Damaged garage
MV PAN Damaged tax office with garbage and rubble on street being cleared (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR Rubble inside office
GV PAN Government building and sign of winegrowers' administration of Narbonne (2 shots)
Initials CL/0205 CL/0215
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Background: A high ranking police officer and a winegrower were killed during angry clashes in the south of France on Thursday (4 March) over cheap Italian wine imports.
Angry French winegrowers demonstrating in the city of Narbonne set off two explosions near government buildings on Wednesday (3 March). One of the blasts damaged a tax centre. Tension rose when police arrested five winegrowers after an attack on a wine depot in eastern France last weekend.
On Thursday the policeman was killed in an exchange of rifle and sub-machine gun fire with winegrowers. According to eye-witnesses, a winegrower also died after being shot in the head and there were unconfirmed reports of up to 50 injuries.
The Interior Ministry in Paris said a major in the C.R.S. riot police was killed and 11 policemen were injured in the clash. The incident marked the first time southern winegrowers have used guns in their year-long dispute with the authorities.
Their discontent centres on imports of low-cost Italian wine which they claim are putting them out of business.
The 20-minute exchange of fire broke out on a road bridge over the main Marseilles-Bordeaux railway line three kilometres (one mile) from Narbonne.
SYNOPSIS: A demonstration by angry French winegrowers climaxed on Thursday in Narbonne with the killing of a policeman and a protester. The demonstration was over the importation of cheap Italian wine.
The incident occurred on this road bridge over the main Marseilles to Bordeaux railway line, three kilometres from the city. The high-ranking police officer was killed during a 20-minute exchange of fire. Eyewitnesses said a winegrower was also shot in the head during the clash -- the first time southern winegrowers have used guns during their year-long dispute with the authorities. The Interior Ministry said another 11 policemen were injured in the fighting.
The clash came after a night of destruction by the winegrowers. The protesters set off two explosions near government buildings. One of the blasts damaged a tax centre. The discontent centres on imports of low-cost Italian wine which the Frenchmen claim is putting them out of business. The government has tried several ways of appeasing the growers, including enforcing a ban and later import duty on Italian wines.