French riot police forced open a strategic fuel refinery today that had been a bastion of resistance to President Sarkozy's bid to raise the retirement age to 62, pushing striking workers aside with shields in a bid to end gasoline shortages. The operation came as the French Senate prepared to vote on a pension reform at the heart of the unions' anger, after the government short-circuited a protracted debate.
The Senate is near certain to approve the measure later today, despite months of strikes and protests that reached a climax of radical action and scattered clashes this week. The Interior Ministry said the operation at the fuel refinery succeeded "without incident," but union reps said three workers were injured in the melee. Workers had been camped for 10 days in front of the site, blocking access and contributing to punishing fuel shortages. (Read more France stories.)