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French pension reform protests marred by violent clashes

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French pension reform protests marred by violent clashes
French CRS riot police charge during a demonstration at Place d'Italie in Paris on the 11th day of action against pension reform. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Protests against pension reform were marred by clashes between radical groups of protesters and French police in Paris on Thursday that saw a famous restaurant set partially ablaze and dozens of police officers injured. There were also clashes in the western cities of Rennes and Nantes.

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Around 570,000 people demonstrated against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms across France Thursday, 57,000 of them in Paris, the interior ministry said, in a count sharply lower than previous weeks' protests.

The protests in Paris saw violent clashes between more radical elements among demonstrators and French riot police. Police reported that 77 officers had been injured including 13 were needed hospital treatment. Over 30 arrests were made in relation to the disturbances. 

As the march came to an end at Place d'Italie French police fired teargas and charged protesters, some of whom hurled objects and bottles at officers.

A firefighter extinguishes a fire during a demonstration at Place d'Italie, Paris on the 11th day of action after the government pushed a pensions reform through parliament without a vote, using the article 49.3 of the constitution, in Paris on April 6, 2023. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

Earlier the famous bistro La Rotonde, mear Montparnasse was partially ablaze on Thursday, with arsonists having apparently set fire to the restaurant's awning as pension reform protests passed the venue.

 

The Thursday blaze was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

Police formed a cordon in front of the restaurant, and were pelted with projectiles and paint by some black-clad people from within the protest.

French gendarmes form a cordon around the "La Rotonde" brasserie where a worker uses a fire-extinguisher to put out flames on the restaurant's awning, during clashes with protesters on the sidelines of a demonstration on the 11th day of action. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

La Rotonde was also severely damaged during the 'yellow vest' protests of 2018 - it is the restaurant where President Emmanuel Macron celebrated his election victory in 2017.

Marches and demonstrations took place once again across France on Thursday, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets to show their anger with the government's pension reform.

The demos were predominantly nonviolent, but as well as Paris clashes took place in Rennes and Nantes in western France.

 

 

In the western city of Nantes, some radical protesters threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas, an AFP photographer saw. Over 20 arrests were made.

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In Bordeaux people drinking on cafe terraces were forced to flee after police fired teargas towards protesters taking part in an unauthorised march.

But other rallies appeared largely peaceful with several featuring dancing demonstrators or brass bands.

In Paris, striking railway workers occupied the former headquarters of the Credit Lyonnais bank, a famed building that now houses companies including the BlackRock investment firm, setting off smoke flares and whistling in a 20-minute action.

Activists also staged a blockade at Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday morning, while striking rail workers briefly blocked the train station in Angouleme.

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