PARIS — Violent clashes erupted on Friday night between hundreds of partygoers and police officers trying to break up an illegal rave in western France, leaving several people injured on both sides, including one man whose hand was severed.
The police in France have increasingly been called on in recent months to break up illegal parties, often ending in skirmishes with participants. With clubs having been closed since the beginning of the pandemic last March, illegal outdoor parties have sprung up around the country, posing a challenge for the local authorities.
At a news conference on Saturday morning, Emmanuel Berthier, the state’s representative in Ille-et-Vilaine, in Brittany, where the party took place, described “clashes of extreme violence” that “lasted more than seven hours.” Local authorities said that about 1,500 people had attended the rave, and that more than 400 police officers had been mobilized.
Mr. Berthier said that the police in the town of Redon were hit with Molotov cocktails, hard wooden balls and other dangerous objects, and that five police officers had been injured. He said that the man who had lost his hand was 22 years old, but that the circumstances were not yet clear.
Prosecutors in western France said that the injured man had surgery for amputation, and that an investigation had been opened to determine the exact circumstances of the injury. In a Twitter post with a video of a man with an injured hand being evacuated by people in the crowd, a man who identified himself as a freelance French journalist reported that a grenade had exploded.
The clashes in Redon came just as France is about to exit a seemingly endless cycle of coronavirus-related restrictions that have sown a deep sense of fatigue and frustration, especially among younger people. But with its vaccination campaign well underway, the French government has said that it plans to allow nightclubs to reopen in July, with specific restrictions.
The Redon rave was organized as a tribute to Steve Maia Caniço, a 24-year-old who disappeared in 2019 at a concert that was broken up by the police in Nantes, in western France. Friends had suspected that Mr. Caniço — who they said did not know how to swim — had fallen into the river with more than a dozen other people and drowned as the police confronted the revelers with tear gas. The others were rescued.
The clashes on Friday were even more violent than those in Nantes. The local authorities had issued an order banning the gathering but organizers went ahead anyway. Videos posted online show the police repeatedly firing tear gas at crowds who, in response, hurl gasoline bombs and other projectiles at the officers. Several hundred partygoers were still on site as of Saturday morning and the police were still trying to evict them in the afternoon.