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French butchers fear 'civil war' with vegans after slaughterhouse fire

"To save a farmer eat a vegan," a banner declares as farming unionists confront members of 269 Life Libération Animale outside a poulty slaughterhouse on Wednesday AFP

Butchers' and livestock farmers' representatives on Friday called on President Emmanuel Macron "immediately halt" attacks by vegan activists on businesses in the meat trade, following an arson attack on a slaughterhouse in eastern France for which no-one has yet claimed responsibility.

Macron must act to stop the "sectarian violence that can only lead to civil war", an open letter signed by beef producers' organisation Interbev head Dominique Langlois and pork producers' group Inaporc chief Guillaume Roué declared on Friday.

Over the last few months vegan activists have daubed graffiti on or otherwise vandalised several butchers' shops in "anti-speciesist" protests.

On Thursday night an abattoir in Haut-Valromey, in the eastern Jura mountains, was badly damaged by a fire that police are treating as arson.

Six petrol cans were found in different parts of the slaughterhouse, which employees 80 people, and about half of the 4,000m² premises were burnt, along with several vehicles.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blaze, however.

"We have no personal enemies, we have no professional enemies and our competitors are not terrorists, so, yes, in the present climate you can draw your own conclusions," Christelle Gesler, the daughter of the business's founder, told the AFP news agency. "Anyway, as long as responsibility has not been claimed, the one thing we can be sure of is that we are dealing with cowards."

On Wednesday the 269 Libération Animale group called for night-time demonstrations outside slaughter-houses across France.

A planned demonstration near Paris was banned.