This is the moment a Paris shanty town was smashed to pieces after French police swooped in a dawn raid to remove 400 Romani gypsies who had built the settlement.

The makeshift camp was set up on an abandoned railway line called La Petite Ceinture in the 18th arrondissement of the French capital.

French gendarmes this morning swooped to clear 135 shacks amid fears over poor hygiene and heating and a lack of fire safety measures.

Later in the day, diggers moved in and began the task of demolishing the temporary wooden buildings, which had been built up either side of the disused line.

Pictures taken just yesterday show how the community had laid out paving slabs to create a walk way down the centre of the disused railway line with temporary homes built up either side.

But this morning police could be seen going from door-to-door as they started the eviction process and pictures show the inhabitants packing their bags before being moved on.

According to Le Figaro, half of the community had already left the camp earlier this week as rumours surfaced that authorities were planning to take action.

The land belongs to the SNCF railway authority, which refused to comment.

Some of those evicted later walked to nearby government offices and staged a protest. The Interior Ministry gave orders for the eviction to take place with safety experts concerned about the fire risk posed by makeshift heating devices in the wooden shacks.

According to France Info, French authorities have offered temporary alternative accommodation with priority given to families of children already enrolled in schools in Paris.

Amnesty International urged city authorities to find a lasting housing solution and said those expelled would become homeless in mid-winter.

There were also fears they would just build a new camp elsewhere.

Paris police said the camp was cleared over hygiene and safety concerns, namely the use of makeshift heaters that could spark a fire.

[Editor’s Note: Many striking photos of the camp are available at the original article.]

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