In eastern France, efforts are being made to negotiate with a soldier who is threatening to blow up an ammunition depot. The sergeant major has locked himself inside a bunker that contains more than 60 tonnes of mainly anti-tank mines, in a protest against his imminent retirement. About 400 residents of three villages in the Marne region have been evacuated from their homes, although officials stress there is little risk to the public.
“This is a secure site,” said the region’s police chief. “The depots are made of concrete … and if there was an explosion it wouldn’t reach the other ammunition stores or outside the camp.” Nonetheless, authorities want to be on the safe side while the man’s family is brought in to try to help with the negotiations. While residents are given temporary accommodation in a local gymnasium, specialist police and army teams have taken up positions at the military site.