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article imageFrench techno fan missing after police music festival raid

By AFP     Jun 25, 2019 in World

Concern was growing Tuesday over the fate of a young techno music fan in France who went missing after attending a festival that ended with police dispersing participants and allegedly forcing some into the river.

Steve Maia Canico, 24, was last seen at the techno music evening by the River Loire in the western city of Nantes during an annual nationwide all-night music festival at the weekend.

The night of music late Saturday had ended in chaos before dawn, with police using tear gas to disperse the crowd and clashes erupting as police asked for the music to come to an end.

The clashes happened at 4:30 am local time, around half an hour after the music had been scheduled to stop.

Footage shared on social media showed the police moving in with batons at the scene by the river.

Friends of 24-year-old Steve Canico fear he was swept away in the water
Friends of 24-year-old Steve Canico fear he was swept away in the water
Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS, AFP

Local authorities said 14 people were subsequently rescued from the river after the clashes, with Canico's friends fearing he was swept away in the water.

"Searches for the missing person are continuing in the water," the local prefecture said in a statement.

France's National Police Inspectorate -- which oversees the work of the police -- has launched an investigation into the actions of the police in Nantes.

There were also questions over why the local authorities in the city had allowed the event to go ahead at an insecure riverside venue without a barrier.

Divers of the Fire Brigade intervene in the Loire river searching for 24-year-old Steve Canico who d...
Divers of the Fire Brigade intervene in the Loire river searching for 24-year-old Steve Canico who disappeared after falling in the river
Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS, AFP

"Even if I still have hope, there is part of me that says we need to expect the worst," said Aliyah, 20, a friend of Canico.

The incident comes with the French police under heavy scrutiny over their handling of the yellow vest protest movement that erupted late last year.

Protesters have accused the police of heavy-handed tactics and abusing powers but the authorities have said the demonstrators themselves have been behind the frequent violence.

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