French President takes refuge in bar

Attack: The French President is booed this morning. Video: TFI News/ YouTube

 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been attacked by protesters while out on the campaign trail, forcing him to hide in a bar.

Mr Sarkozy was in Bayonne in the Basque region of France, continuing his tour of the country prior to the upcoming presidential elections in April. As he walked through the city centre, a mob of protesters booed and chanted insults at him.

The protesters are believed to be Basque separatists and supporters of his socialist presidential rival Francois Hollande.

Mr Sarkozy stayed in the bar for around an hour and described the protesters as “hooligans”. Several protesters threw eggs at the bar while the president was inside and shouted, “Nicolas, get out!”

 

Riot police were deployed around the bar to hold off the protesters while the President spoke to local voters inside.

Mr Sarkozy later condemned the attacks, stating, “I am saddened to see Hollande’s Socialist militants associating with (Basque) separatists in violent protests to terrorise ordinary people who want just one thing: to meet and talk with me.”

A spokesperson from Francois Hollande’s campaign team has released a statement to say that they condemn any violence and no Socialists were involved in the incident.

The Basque region covers southwestern France and northern Spain. Terrorist group ETA has led a violent campaign for independence in the region through shootings and bombings, mostly in Spain. Its political party Batasuna has been banned in Spain, however it still operates in France and has a strong following in the region.

The attack comes after Mr Hollande had a bag of flour thrown at him during a campaign speech last month. A 45-year-old woman ran to the podium where the Socialist leader was speaking and assaulted him with the bag of flour before being restrained by bodyguards.

The most recent presidential opinion polls show Mr Sarkozy has 27% of the vote, while Mr Hollande has 28.5%.

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