French President Nicolas Sarkozy took refuge in a bar Thursday after hundreds of Basque nationalists and opposition Socialist party supporters mobbed him, shouting insults and throwing eggs.
Riot police deployed outside the bar in Bayonne, in the south-western Basque region, where Sarkozy was on the campaign trail to seek re-election in a presidential vote in April and May.
Some of the protestors jeered and booed and threw eggs at the bar, while others shouted "Nicolas kampora!", which in the Basque language means "Nicolas get out!", and flung tracts calling for more Basque autonomy.
Sarkozy remained in the bar for an hour while police held off the protestors, some of whom were brandishing the electoral programme of the front-running Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.
Sarkozy condemned what he said was violence carried out by a "minority of thugs" and said he regretted that "militant Socialists were allying themselves with Basque separatists."
His campaign spokeswoman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, accused the Socialists of organising "street protests" against the president.