WATCH: Jihadist Prison Attack on Corsican Nationalist Sparks Riots, 44 Cops Injured

The Corsican city of Bastia erupted into violent riots over the weekend, leading to 44 members of the police being injured by protestors angered over an attack on a Corsican nationalist by a jihadist inmate.

Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna, who is serving a life sentence for the 1998 assassination of regional official Claude Erignac, has been in a coma and a state of brain death since March 2nd after being attacked by veteran jihadist Franck Elong Abé, who is in prison after being convicted of terrorism and fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Some media reports have suggested that the convicted terrorist attacked and attempted to kill Colonna over accusations that the nationalist had made blasphemous statements and disparaging comments about the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

Since the attack, tensions have been high in Corsica and reached a boiling point on Sunday in Bastia when a group of 7-12,000 protestors marched in support of Colonna and decried the “murderous French state”, accusing the government of being complicit in the attack, Actu 17 reports.

Rioting began at around 4:30 pm in the afternoon and saw protestors attack police with Molotov cocktails and attempt to set a local tax office on fire. Around 300 black-clad hooded demonstrators were said to be the driving force behind the riots, which lasted around 6 hours until 10:30 pm.

Police deployed both tear gas and water cannons against the rioters, who attacked police with Molotov cocktails, rocks from a nearby railway track and several are also believed to have shot officers with pellet rifles. In total, 67 people were injured as a result of the violence, 44 of them police officers.

Gilles Simeoni, president of the executive council of Corsica and former lawyer of Yvan Colonna, commented on the riots saying, “Anger and indignation are expressed, but what matters is that the entire Corsican people are mobilized against injustice, the demand for truth and beyond for a real political solution.”

Supporters of Colonna have also demanded that he and other Corsican nationalist prisoners be transferred to prisons in Corsica, rather than be kept on the French mainland.

Last week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex attempted to ease tensions by removing Colonna’s special prisoner status, which has been used as a reason to keep him imprisoned on the mainland.

Sunday’s riot is just the latest in Corsica over the attack on Colonna, with several other clashes taking place earlier last week in the cities of Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia.

Protesters throw projectiles during clashes with police following a rally in support of Corsican nationalist figure Yvan Colonna a week after he was attacked in prison, in Bastia, Corsica, on March 13, 2022. (Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP via Getty Images)

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)

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