French authorities alleviate fuel shortages

French security forces have broken through blockades at three fuel deports in the west of the country as the attempt to alleviate a mounting energy crisis gathers pace.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has also authorised the use of force at all remaining blockades at fuel depots as the country runs out of fuel.

Pictured: Protestors in the west of France

Thousands of petrol stations were closed yesterday, as a rolling strike against planned pension reforms into its seventh day.

All 12 refineries on the French mainland have been affected by strike action.

Protestors are angry at plans to raise the French retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67.

In response transport workers earlier said they would continue their protest on Wednesday.

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French Strike Action

National rail operator SNCF said, despite the industrial action, at least half of its trains will run on Wednesday, with up to two thirds of high-speed TGV trains running on schedule.

Airlines Air France and Iberia have cancelled flights in and out of Paris, while airports in Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand are experiencing delays following continuing efforts by strikers to blockade fuel depots.

Return to Order

In a hardening of rhetoric president Sarkozy pledged to “to guarantee order” and crack down on “troublemakers”.

He was joined by interior minister Brice Hortefeux, who confirmed three fuel depots in western France had been forced open overnight “without incident”.

The minister explained he respected the right to protest, but that this right did not include the right to block workers or to commit pillage or violence.

Hortefeux had earlier also threatened to use paramilitary police to stop rioters who torched cars, trashed stores and injured police and others on the fringes of nationwide protests.