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Femen HQ hit by fire after ‘witches’ death threat

The Paris offices of militant feminist group Femen were hit by fire on Sunday. Although police are treating the blaze as an accident it comes after a recent death threat which said the activists should "burn" like "witches".

Femen HQ hit by fire after 'witches' death threat
Femen leader Inna Shevchenko holds up a Femen t-shirt as she looks through the debris after the weekend fire. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

A pre-dawn fire damaged the Paris office of the radical topless feminist group Femen on Sunday in what police were treating as an accident.

But the group called it a "disturbing coincidence", noting that the Paris branch, headquartered in a working-class district in the northeast of the city, had recently received a phone message calling the activists "witches" who should "burn".

The fire broke out at 5:00 am (0300 GMT) in a room where Ukrainian activist Inna Shevchenko, who was recently granted asylum in France, has been sheltering.

She was not present at the time, though several members of the group were sleep in the offices located on the building's second and top floors.

Among them were Pauline Hillier and Marguerite Stern, who were detained for nearly a month in Tunisia after a topless protest on May 29.

Firefighters said no one was injured.

But Hillier said the group was "shocked" by the incident and "would like to know what really happened".

She said: "We get death threats every day. Yesterday we received a message that said 'burn witches'.

"We find that there are many coincidences and this has happened just one week after the stamp controversy," she said.

Shevchenko was said to have partly inspired a new stamp released on Bastille Day, France's national day, bearing the image of Marianne, the female symbol of the French Republic.

That sparked fierce controversy, with critics of Femen denouncing the new Marianne as a "Christianophobe, hater and ideologue".

Earlier this month Shevchenko provoked Muslim ire when she tweeted at the beginning of Ramadan: "What could be more stupid than Ramadan? What is uglier than this religion?"

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POLICE

Four police hurt in clashes with Saint-Etienne ultras

Four French police officers were hurt during clashes outside Saint-Etienne's stadium after Monaco crushed the home team, police and local government said on Saturday.

Four police hurt in clashes with Saint-Etienne ultras
Saint-Etienne's supporters clash with police following the French L1 football match between Saint-Etienne and Monaco. Photo: Romain Lafabregue/AFP

The Ligue 1 game was played on Friday with the two stands behind the goals in the Stade Geoffroy Guichard closed as punishment for incidents involving Saint-Etienne's ultras during another heavy home defeat in the derby against Lyon on November 5th.

After the match in the central city on Friday, which Saint-Etienne lost 4-0, police said around 200 people gathered outside the entry to the stadium looking for trouble and vandalising property. The ultras started throwing stones at police, who responded by firing teargas grenades.

Among the police who drove the crowd away, two were taken to hospital for treatment, one of them with a hand injury which is expected to keep him off duty for three weeks.

The only supporter arrested, a 21-year-old, was held overnight and was due in court in Saint-Etienne on Saturday afternoon on charges of throwing a projectile at the police.