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PROTESTS

In Pictures: French firefighters clash with riot police in Paris

A protest by thousands of French firefighters in Paris on Tuesday ended in violent clashes with police with video images showing riot officers using tear gas, batons and water canon on demonstrators. Three police officers were injured.

In Pictures: French firefighters clash with riot police in Paris
"Firefighters in fury". Photo: AFP

Paris has been the scene of numerous violent protests in recent months but usually the firefighters and riot police are on the same side.

But on Tuesday a protest by firefighters (pompiers) to call for better pay and working conditions descended into ugly clashes with riot police.

Videos from various points around Paris showed riot police charging firefighters with batons, whilst using tear gas and water canon to try to disperse the protesters.

READ ALSO Why are French firefighters protesting in the streets?

For their part police deplored the violence of some of those taking part in the protests and said three officers were left injured after being hit by objects.

Trouble broke out when firefighters tried to block traffic at various points in Paris including near the National Assembly and on the Peripherique ring road.

 

 

 

 

 

Some brandished banners with slogans such as “Do more with less, welcome to the fire service”, while others hit out at what they described as “political contempt” for their cause.

“Our numbers are falling, but we're overwhelmed by the number of call-outs. 

We're being asked to do everything, even replace ambulances. At some point, we just can't do it any more,” Mathias Gosse, a 53-year-old firefighter from southwest France, told AFP.

Firefighters' trade unions are demanding higher premiums for fighting fires, to bring them in line with the equivalent bonuses for police.

The firefighters hailed the demonstration a success, putting the number of protesters at between 7,000 and 10,000. Paris police put it at 7,400.

Professional firefighters represent just 16 percent of a total 247,000 throughout France, the vast majority of whom are volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PROTESTS

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.

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