(CNN) — A group of protesters in Martinique believed to be responsible for burning several vehicles and attacking several police officers and journalists on Wednesday night, say the police there have started arresting the alleged perpetrators.
The attack came after protestors stopped cars and set them on fire in the town of Dieulze-Barthelemy, a media representative on the island told CNN.
Martinique’s Interior Minister Florence LeBarrelis said police had arrested at least 12 people and confiscated more than 40 Molotov cocktails in an operation in the area.
According to the representative, the rioters were believed to be members of a protest movement, Trois-Rivières, that has gathered attention in recent weeks for what it calls widespread repression.
Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are territories of France, but they are home to different populations, making the protesters’ cause complicated, the representative told CNN.
The Martinique representative said the group felt powerless because the French were unwilling to respect its right to freedom of expression.
“There is a very high number of them that protest,” he said. “The way they do is that they break into people’s homes at night and kick doors off. They use massive violence against property and their own families.”
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A spokesman for Martinique’s police told CNN that they would clarify any additional information about the incident after reviewing the incident on Thursday morning.
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