Hundreds injured in night of violent clashes in Paris

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Hundreds injured in night of violent clashes in Paris
A protester holds a burning flare near a street fire on the Place de l'Opera in Paris on Thursday. Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP

Hundreds were arrested, fires started around the capital and, according to the Interior Minister, 441 police officers were injured in a night of violent clashes in Paris between law enforcement and black-clad protesters.


Thursday marked the latest one-day strike in France in protest at proposed pension reforms, and also saw around 200 demos in towns and cities around France - official estimates of the turnout were just over 1 million people.

In Paris an estimated 116,000 people peacefully demonstrated their opposition to the government's plan to raise the pension age, but as the evening went on small groups of masked, black-clad people began setting fires and smashing windows in the area around Opéra and in several other areas of the city.


Windows were smashed and bins, street furniture and piles of rubbish were set ablaze and there were also violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

READ ALSO Should you cancel a trip to France because of strikes and demos?


Police used tear gas and baton-charged trouble-makers, while TV footage showed demonstrators throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at police.


Speaking with the CNews channel on Friday morning, Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said: "There were a lot of demonstrations and some of them turned violent, notably in Paris," Darmanin added, saying the toll was "difficult" while praising the police for protecting the more than million people who marched around France.

Darmanin said that 903 fires had been reported at demos around France, mostly in Paris, a total of 457 arrests made and 441 police officers injured.

But there were also videos circulating on social media showing police beating demonstrators.


Clashes were also seen in Bordeaux and Rennes after protest marches on pension reform.

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne described the violent as "unacceptable".

"It is a right to demonstrate and make your disagreements known," she tweeted, but added: "The violence and destruction that we have seen today are unacceptable."

Darmanin also condemned the violence, dismissing  calls from protesters to withdraw the pensions reform which cleared parliament last week in controversial circumstances.

"I don't think we should withdraw this law because of violence," he said. "If so, that means there's no state. We should accept a democratic, social debate, but not a violent debate".

Away from Paris, trouble flared in cities including Bordeaux, where a fire was started at the Ton Hall.


"I have difficulty in understanding and accepting this sort of vandalism," the mayor of Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, told RTL radio on Friday.

"Why would you make a target of our communal building, of all people of Bordeaux? I can only condemn it in the strongest possible terms."

The clashes followed a ninth day of mass strike action in the pensions battle that has been raging since January. Unions have called another one-day strike on Tuesday, March 28th.


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