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Guadeloupe: Union Activist Shot Dead at Barricade

Translated Wednesday 18 February 2009, by Kristina Wischenkamper

A man in his 50s was killed by gunshot fired "from a barricade manned by youths" on Tuesday night in Pointe-à-Pitre, according to the Prefecture’s crisis unit, confirming a report made on Europe 1 radio.

The victim was a "union activist returning from a meeting" and was killed in a car in Henry IV popular district, a sensitive area of Chanzy in Pointe-à-Pitre, the source confirmed by telephone to French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) in Paris.

Another person in the victim’s vicinity at the time of the incident is currently being questioned by police.

Whilst escorting firemen coming to the aid of the victim three policemen were slightly injured that evening by lead bullets "probably from a hunting rifle" stated an official from the crisis unit.

Emergency services were informed around 00.18hrs (05:18 Paris time) that a man inside a car had been shot. But after having had projectiles thrown at them they asked for a police escort. And it was only once the area was "secure", at approximately 02.50hrs (07:50 Paris time) that they were able to reach the union activist who in the meantime had died, according to the Prefecture.

The Public Prosecutor at Point-à-Pitre, Jean-Michel Prêtre, told AFP that he would hold a press conference on the matter at 09.30hrs (14.30 in France).

The Secretary-General at the Guadeloupe Prefecture, Hubert Vernet, gave the following version to Reuters press agency: the victim "found himself in front of a barricade and it seems that as he attempted to turn back he was beaten and shot at by youths manning the barricade".

Questioned by AFP, Elie Domota, the leader of the strikers’ collective LKP [1], in turn said it was sad that "each time" a death was necessary to help and solve the social problems in the island. After having called for a return to peace on the local radios, he observed that "Guadeloupe is almost about to explode", calling for "urgent, immediate but also long-lasting solutions".

Apart from this fatality the Prefecture’s crisis unit has compiled a report on the night’s clashes: 15 shops were looted, 7 buildings set alight, 21 vehicles burned, 13 people were arrested and some 60 or so firemen intervened.

The Minister of the Interior, Michèle Alliot-Marie, has decided to hold a meeting on Wednesday at 16.00hrs in Paris on the theme of "public security in the Antilles".

1 Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon or "Collective Against Exploitation" in Creole

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