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French prison protests enters 2nd week, another guard assaulted
Pickets were out outside up to 145 prisons in France on Monday morning as a prison officers' protest movement entered its second week. Two guards were attacked by an inmate on Sunday evening, adding fuel to a fire that was set off by a similar assault.
Unions claimed that there were pickets outside 130-145 of France's 188 prisons on Monday after mass meetings on Saturday rejected a government offer aimed at ending the protests.
The prison service counted 100 prisons affected by the movement.
Prison officers erected barricades of burning tyres and wooden pallets in front of several jails, an action that led riot police to intervene on several occasions last week.
The unions have called for more resources for the country's overcrowded prisons, in particular because of the increased number of radical Islamists, either jailed for terror offences or converted while serving time, and higher pay.
Guards attacked overnight
A common law inmate attacked two guards with an iron table leg at Longuenesse prison in northern France on Sunday evening, leading to them both being taken to hospital.
About 50 of their colleagues picketed the prison on Monday morning and unions called on staff not to report to work, leaving police to take over controlling prisoners if the strike was sufficiently effective.
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet declared her "support and solidarity with prison officers who are victims of serious and intolerable attacks" in a statement published overnight and said she wanted to "resume dialogue immediately".
Belloubet was to meet all the unions at 2.00pm, according to members of her staff.
After consulting strikers, the unions this weekend rejected a first government offer, which included the creation of 1,100 new jobs over the next four years, a specific detention regime for radicalised inmates, tighter control of violent prisoners and more resources for equipment, training and pay.
Le Pen backs strikers
Valérie Pécresse, the right-wing leader of the Ile de France region, which includes Paris, on Sunday called for "emergency detention centres" to be built to ease the overcrowding that is the root of many of the service's problems.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Monday declared her "total support" for the strikers' demands, blaming the presence of "people who have committed acts of war" in prisons for the crisis.
"For these terrorists or these radicalised elements a special law, a special penal procedure, special courts and a special prison system," she told France 2 TV.