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Strike-hit France smashes blockades as fuel runs dry

French police fired water cannon on Wednesday to disperse scores of activists blocking a northeastern oil depot, as pumps ran dry and unions stepped up strikes in a bitter battle over labour reforms.

With a fifth of petrol stations in France running low, police moved in to break a blockade at the depot in Douchy-les-Mines near the Belgian border that had been in place since Thursday. “They cleared away all our barricades. The depot was unblocked without confrontation,” said Willy Dans, a spokesman for the local branch of the SUD union.

“The police moved in quickly. They used water cannon. We got the feeling they were tense,” Dans told AFP. Watched by around 80 striking workers, firefighters extinguished burning tyres that were blocking roads and sending thick plumes of smoke billowing into the air.
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