According to Gendarme investigators, the attack on the war memorial may be linked to the proposed removal of far-left activists from the La Borie site which was occupied in the 1980s in opposition to a dam project along the nearby river. A court ruling on the eviction is expected this week.
Since 2014, the mayor of Saint-Jean-du-Gard has tried to negotiate with the occupiers on four separate occasions but claims to have made no progress as the group have no official leadership structure. The local government want the activists to leave in order to sell the land to farmers.
The squat has been compared to that of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in which far-left activists and extremists have recently clashed with police who have attempted to evict them from the site, which at one point was scheduled to become an airport.
In one recent clash between the activists and police, a man attempted to pick up a GLI-F4 police grenade, containing tear gas and 25 grammes of TNT, which exploded in his hand, tearing it apart. The man was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was treated for his injuries.
The evacuation of Notre-Dame-des-Landes was also mentioned in a video by the extremist Antifa group which has several French members fighting in Northern Syria against the Turkish government.
The violent extremists warned in a video that as a result of the government’s actions against the activists, the extremists would return to France and fight the French state, claiming to want to sabotage infrastructure and target police and intelligence officials.
In a recent “riot manual” booklet released by the German branch of Antifa ahead of this month’s anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) conference in Augsburg, the group also specifically calls on supporters to target war memorials for vandalism and destruction.