Tensions rise as new inmate attack fuels French prison strikes

Marie DHUMIERES, Joseph Schmid
1 / 2
French prison guards, seen here by a burning barricade in Nanterre, began a nationwide strike earlier this week over security concerns

French police fired tear gas to break up a picket line of striking prison guards at Europe's biggest jail on Friday, as a fresh assault by inmates on staff at a facility in Corsica fuelled demands for better security.

The scuffles at the huge Fleury-Merogis prison just south of Paris came as unions were pressing a fourth day of strikes across France sparked by a string of attacks on guards.

The latest came in Borgo on the island of Corsica on Friday when three inmates, including one under surveillance for Islamic radicalisation, attacked two guards with a knife.

One of the guards was seriously wounded in the throat but neither was in a life-threatening condition, said public prosecutor Caroline Tharot.

A police operation was under way to apprehend the inmate suspected of wielding the weapon after he barricaded himself in a cell, according to a source close to the inquiry.

The inmate was detained on charges unrelated to terrorism, but wiretaps had suggested he had been radicalised, the source said.

It was the latest in a series of attacks on guards.

On January 11, German convict Christian Ganczarski, a former top Al-Qaeda militant, attacked three officers with scissors and a razor blade at a high-security prison in northern France.

Two other attacks followed in less than a week, prompting guards to launch a nationwide strike calling for improved security at often overcrowded prisons.

Prison authorities said the strikes were affecting 80 of France's 188 facilities.

The Corsica attack led union officials to call off talks they had been holding with the justice ministry since Tuesday.

But union officials and prison authorities have drawn up a draft agreement, including proposals to better protect guards and deal with radicalised inmates, which has been sent to the justice minister, a source within the prison service told AFP.

- Radicalisation risks -

Earlier Friday there were scuffles at Fleury-Merogis as guards protested the string of attacks that have focused a spotlight on security problems and radicalisation behind bars in France.

Outside the entrance to the prison -- Europe's largest, with more than 4,300 inmates -- around 150 striking guards had set up a barricade of burning tyres and wooden pallets to prevent their colleagues from getting to work, an AFP correspondent said.

Riot police quickly broke through the picket line, firing tear gas to disperse the demonstrators and allow their colleagues to get inside.

"The CRS (riot police) charged and fired tear gas at us but we tried to resist," a 28-year-old guard, who gave his name only as Sacha, told AFP.

On Thursday, security reinforcements had to be brought in to help after more than 100 prisoners refused to return to their cells following their midday walk in the yard, France's prison administration service said.

Other attacks in recent days included an assault by an inmate under surveillance for extremist views, who punched a female guard in the face at Tarascon prison near Marseille.

On Monday, a convict considered at risk of "radicalisation" at the Mont-de-Marsan prison in southwest France attacked guards as he resisted a search.

French guards have long complained of low pay, insufficient staffing and overcrowding -- the Fresnes prison near Paris is currently at 200 percent capacity.

And they increasingly warn they are endangered by inmates under the sway of Islamic extremists.

The prisons administration agency said nearly half of France's 188 detention facilities had been affected by the strike action Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron has promised to outline plans for an overhaul of the prisons system by the end of February, expected to include facility renovations and expansions to house an additional 15,000 inmates.

On Friday, France faced calls by several member nations of the UN's Human Rights Council to address the situation.

"It's true, much more remains to be done, prisons are suffering from persistent overcrowding," the head of the French delegation said at a council working session.

  • 'Enough excuses!' France's Le Maire grows impatient over GAFA tax
    Tech
    Reuters

    'Enough excuses!' France's Le Maire grows impatient over GAFA tax

    Europe has talked long enough about whether to make internet giants like Google , Apple and Facebook pay more taxes and it is time for a decision, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday. Le Maire said the blockage was purely political and that all technical questions surrounding how

  • Freed Vietnam blogger 'Mother Mushroom' arrives in US
    News
    AFP News

    Freed Vietnam blogger 'Mother Mushroom' arrives in US

    A dissident Vietnamese blogger known by her pen name 'Mother Mushroom' has arrived in the United States after her surprise release from prison, telling a large crowd of supporters she will "never keep silent" in her fight for democracy in the one-party state. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh,

  • Google to charge smartphone makers for Google Play in Europe
    Tech
    Reuters

    Google to charge smartphone makers for Google Play in Europe

    The new arrangement opens doors for Google's web search and browser rivals such as Microsoft Corp but essentially leaves the U.S. tech giant's lucrative mobile business intact, analysts said. The European Commission in July fined Google a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) for using the

  • Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there's a robot for that
    News
    AFP News

    Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there's a robot for that

    Forget the flashy humanoids with their gymnastics skills: at the World Robot Summit in Tokyo, the focus was on down-to-earth robots that can deliver post, do the shopping and build a house. Introducing CarriRo, a delivery robot shaped a bit like a toy London bus with bright, friendly "eyes"

  • China's JD.com unwraps FedEx-style parcel business to bolster sales
    Finance
    Reuters

    China's JD.com unwraps FedEx-style parcel business to bolster sales

    BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com Inc said on Thursday it would add a FedEx-style parcel delivery service to its e-commerce offerings, a move which could help the firm leverage its network of warehouses and drivers to bolster flagging profits. The shift pits JD.com into greater

  • Plastic piling up in Japan after China waste ban: survey
    News
    AFP News

    Plastic piling up in Japan after China waste ban: survey

    Japan said Thursday it was facing a growing sea of plastic waste with limited capacity to process it after China stopped accepting foreign waste imports. The environment ministry said about a quarter of major regional and municipal governments surveyed reported seeing accumulating plastic waste, sometimes

  • Khashoggi fallout: Saudi conference no-shows
    News
    AFP News

    Khashoggi fallout: Saudi conference no-shows

    French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday became the latest in an array of policy-makers and corporate chiefs to pull out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  • A simple guide to Xi Jinping Thought? Here’s how China’s official media tried to explain it
    News
    South China Morning Post

    A simple guide to Xi Jinping Thought? Here’s how China’s official media tried to explain it

    When Xi Jinping outlined his political blueprint for the next 30 years at the Communist Party congress last year, it took him three and a half hours to articulate his vision for the country. Now, to mark the first anniversary of his speech, the party’s official mouthpiece has made a no less ambitious

  • France's OVH to triple spending to take on Google, Amazon in cloud computing
    Tech
    Reuters

    France's OVH to triple spending to take on Google, Amazon in cloud computing

    The privately-held company will invest between 4-7 billion euros ($4.6-$8.1 billion) over its next five-year plan starting in 2021, founder and owner Octave Klaba, 43, told reporters on Wednesday. It portrays itself as a transparent and secure alternative to Google, Amazon and Microsoft, which dominate

  • PM: Only one-third of GDP profited the average worker
    News
    Malay Mail

    PM: Only one-third of GDP profited the average worker

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — For the past decade, it was mainly capitalists who profited from the nation’s development, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today. The PM said while Malaysia’s...

  • PM: GDP growth benefited capitalists, not workers
    News
    Malay Mail

    PM: GDP growth benefited capitalists, not workers

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — For the past decade, it was mainly capitalists who profited from the nation’s development, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today. The PM said while Malaysia’s...

  • Saudi Arabia 'Coincidentally' Wires $100 Million To U.S. Amid Khashoggi Controversy
    News
    HuffPost

    Saudi Arabia 'Coincidentally' Wires $100 Million To U.S. Amid Khashoggi Controversy

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to

  • Twitter's Plea To 'Be Sweet When You Tweet' Quickly Flies Off The Rails
    News
    HuffPost

    Twitter's Plea To 'Be Sweet When You Tweet' Quickly Flies Off The Rails

    Twitter made a simple request on Wednesday, but many users of the social

  • Mideast ride-hailing app Careem raises $200 million to expand, expects more funds
    Tech
    Reuters

    Mideast ride-hailing app Careem raises $200 million to expand, expects more funds

    Careem, which counts German car maker Daimler and China's largest ride-hailing company DiDi Chuxing among its other backers, was estimated to be worth around $1 billion as of December 2016. Dubai-headquartered Careem, the main regional rival of Uber Technologies [UBER.UL], said it expected to raise

  • Germany is prepared for Brexit: deputy finmin
    News
    Reuters

    Germany is prepared for Brexit: deputy finmin

    BERLIN (Reuters) - German Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukies said on Thursday that Germany was prepared for Britain's departure from the European Union and would tackle the rules for insurers and the financial sector if necessary.

  • Italy, Austria at odds over South Tyrol dual-citizenship
    News
    AFP News

    Italy, Austria at odds over South Tyrol dual-citizenship

    A diplomatic row threatens to disrupt Italy's Alpine province of South Tyrol: over the question of national identity and whether some of its inhabitants should have the right to Austrian citizenship. Italy's wealthiest province elects its new autonomous parliament on Sunday as Vienna and Rome

  • Syed Saddiq eager to meet kid who developed shooting game
    News
    Malay Mail

    Syed Saddiq eager to meet kid who developed shooting game

    PETALING JAYA, October 18 — Twelve-year-old Muhammad Thaqif is not your average kid.   While his friends enjoyed themselves after UPSR, Thaqif had been busy developing a first-person shooting...

  • Dr M says it again: Only two terms for PM, MB, CM
    News
    Malay Mail

    Dr M says it again: Only two terms for PM, MB, CM

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has reiterated Pakatan Harapan’s stand today that a prime minister, mentri besar and chief minister can only serve a maximum of two...

  • Two charged in Singapore with supplying luxury goods to N. Korea
    News
    AFP News

    Two charged in Singapore with supplying luxury goods to N. Korea

    Two men were charged in Singapore Thursday with supplying luxury goods, including jewellery and watches, to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions. A Singaporean man is accused of having helped companies provide luxury items to North Korea on 43 occasions between 2010 and 2016, police said. Three

  • Loke: Train collision at Tanjung Malim under probe
    News
    Malay Mail

    Loke: Train collision at Tanjung Malim under probe

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — A thorough investigation has been conducted on an accident involving a cargo train and Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Komuter at Tanjung Malim station, Transport Minister...

  • Putrajaya scraps balanced budget by 2020 goal, as GDP growth target slashed
    News
    Malay Mail

    Putrajaya scraps balanced budget by 2020 goal, as GDP growth target slashed

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that Putrajaya is estimating a fiscal deficit of 3 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, abandoning the...

  • Russian investigators seek Crimea teenage gunman's motive
    News
    AFP News

    Russian investigators seek Crimea teenage gunman's motive

    Russian investigators on Thursday rushed to establish the motives of a teenage gunman who opened fire in a Crimean technical college leaving at least 19 people dead and dozens injured, with the press dubbing the rampage "Russia's Columbine." In the absence of an official version, speculation

  • Zahid nabbed, to be charged with graft
    News
    Malay Mail

    Zahid nabbed, to be charged with graft

    PUTRAJAYA, Oct 18 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested today Umno president and former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for suspected corruption. Zahid, who...

  • Asian markets down with Fed set for more rate hikes
    News
    AFP News

    Asian markets down with Fed set for more rate hikes

    Asian markets resumed their downtrend on Thursday as investors contemplated more interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, while Washington added to China-US frictions and Brexit negotiators struggled to find common ground. The broad rally across world markets in the middle of the week that was fuelled

  • Hacked, scammed and on your own: navigating cryptocurrency 'wild west'
    Finance
    Reuters

    Hacked, scammed and on your own: navigating cryptocurrency 'wild west'

    When Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke learned in January that hackers cracked a 40-character password and cleaned out their cryptocurrency wallet, they did not go to the police or alert the tokens' issuer, the Berlin-based technology group IOTA. "We really believe in cryptocurrencies. Far from