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French police mobilise against protesters ahead of airport decision

A 2014 protest in the town of Nantes which drew some 20,000 plus the anarchists also led to a violent stand-off with police.

French police are deploying extra forces to western France ahead of a government decision on whether to build an airport project which has been the cause of several violent protests.

Hundreds of anarchists, farmers and environmental activists have occupied a vast area around Notre-Dame-des-Landes, outside the city of Nantes, to resist the proposed scheme. Protesters from other regions have reportedly arrived in recent days.

A security official said extra gendarmes and riot police are being sent to the area as authorities seek to clear out the protesters once the government makes its decision.

An initial attempt in 2012 to dislodge squatters from a resistance community ended in a clash between hundreds of riot police and activists hurling sticks, stones and firebombs.

A 2014 protest in the town of Nantes which drew some 20,000 plus the anarchists also led to a violent stand-off with police.

President Emmanuel Macron’s cabinet is scheduled to discuss the airport at a meeting on Wednesday. His office said prime minister Edouard Philippe, who visited Nantes over the weekend, will then announce the decision.

Proponents argue the region needs a larger airport to boost its economic prospects. Opponents say the airport is unnecessary and a symbol of exploitative globalisation.

Farmers trying to protect their land have joined forces with the anarchists, who call themselves ZADists, based on the French acronym for “development zone”.

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