Anti-government rioters brought “fire and blood” to the streets of France today – days after a state visit by King Charles was canceled over the violence.
Up to a million people took part in demonstrations on Tuesday against President Emmanuel Macron, who raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.
Violence erupted in cities like Paris and Nantes as gangs engaged in fights with police.
“Radicalized elements of the left and ultra-left want to hijack the union moves,” said Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister.
“Their aim is to bring fire and blood to France,” he added, saying that 13,000 police officers and gendarmes were mobilized, including 5,500 in Paris alone.
Anti-government rioters brought “fire and blood” to the streets of France today. Pictured: Riot police attack pension protesters in Paris
Protests have intensified since the government used special constitutional powers to bypass parliament in a final vote on pension legislation nearly two weeks ago
The latest protests come days after a state visit by King Charles was canceled over violence in Paris. Pictured: A protester throws a rock while standing amid tear gas
Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said 13,000 police and gendarmes had been mobilized, including 5,500 in Paris alone. Pictured: A protester clashes with an officer
They were supported by armored cars, water cannons and military units in reserve.
Dozens of bonfires were lit around Place des Nation in Paris after an authorized march ended in the afternoon.
Paramilitary units responded with tear gas cannons and batons to hold back a huge group.
The most feared group was the Black Bloc – an alliance of anarchists from across Europe.
King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, were due to be in Bordeaux today as part of a four-day state visit to France, but it was dramatically halted on Friday.
The attacks included an attempt to burn down City Hall in the south-west city, where unions had pledged to barracks the royal couple.
The protest movement is the biggest domestic political crisis in Macron’s second term in office. Refineries, garbage disposal, rail transport, air traffic and schools are also affected by the strikes on Tuesday.
The Louvre Museum in Paris has been blocked by strikers, while pickets have continued at petrol stations and incinerators, particularly around the capital where 10,000 tonnes of rubbish are still piled up.
On the tenth day of nationwide strikes today, as unrest mounts across the country, students held a banner in front of a blazing fire
Protesters have taken to the streets in droves as President Macron faces major backlash over his pension reforms
Dozens of fires were lit around Nation Square in Paris after an authorized march ended in the afternoon
A banner held up by a protester dressed as a Gaul read, “Macron declared war on the people” after the president raised the retirement age without a parliamentary vote
The crisis has deepened as lawyers complain of excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests by paramilitary police forces.
A 30-year-old man was fighting for his life in a coma on Tuesday after being repeatedly hit in the head with a police baton during a riot over the weekend.
Mr Darmanin, in turn, said “many police officers were seriously injured during the protests”.
Despite the violence and the paralysis of work, Mr Macron and his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said there was no chance of a descent from the flagship pension reform.
“We have to find the right way,” said Mrs. Borne, “we have to calm down”.
A protester jumps over a raging fire during a rally in Paris today as France battles Macron’s pension reforms with an ongoing national strike
Some protesters wore masks as Paris was torched in an angry response to Macron’s attempt to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64
A lone protester stands in front of French riot police as firecrackers explode behind them during a rally attended by up to a million people
Thousands of protesters march through the streets of Paris this month. Public frustration has turned into broader anti-Macron sentiment.
Since mid-January, millions of people have been demonstrating largely peacefully and going on strike. Pictured: A riot police officer is hit by fireworks in Paris last week
But Laurent Berger, leader of the moderate CFDT union, said protests would continue until there was an about-face.
Millions of people have been demonstrating, mostly peacefully, on strike since mid-January to show their opposition to Macron’s plans to let most of them work two more years at 64.
But public frustration has turned into broader anti-Macron sentiment.
Protests have intensified since the government used special constitutional powers to bypass parliament on a final vote on the pension bill nearly two weeks ago, prompting chaotic scenes linked to riots by Yellow Vest supporters during Macron’s first term remember as President.