Paris May Day march descends into violence in run-up to election

Six police officers injured following confrontation with 150 'professional vandals' armed with Molotov cocktails

Paris May Day rally
Demonstrators confront police in Paris on the annual May Day worker's march
(Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Paris's annual May Day union march descended into violent clashes between police and protesters yesterday, as tensions ran high in France as it chooses its next president.

Six riot police were injured following clashes with around 150 people armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails. One received third-degree burns to the hand and face, while another officer was wounded in the hand by a stinger grenade. More than 9,000 armed police and soldiers were called in to manage the protests.

According to the Daily Telegraph, loud explosions, apparently from large firecrackers, were heard across Paris, while riot police surrounded and used teargas on the 150-strong group, who lobbed firebombs and missiles.

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Interior minister Matthias Fekl condemned the protesters as "professional vandals" who had come "to injure and kill police officers".

Police said around 142,000 people attended May Day marches across the country. Many used the celebration of workers' rights to protest against Marine Le Pen, the far-right presidential candidate who goes head-to-head with Emmanuel Macron in the final presidential vote on 7 May.

It is the first time in history that neither of the two main parties, the Socialists or the Republicans, will be in the final round of the election.

Those set against a Le Pen presidency are wondering whether to vote blank, abstain or vote for Macron, a division visible on Monday, The Guardian says. "Even before the violence, the march had got off on the wrong foot," adds the paper, with two unions splitting off from the main demonstration in the morning to hold a separate demonstration in the capital.

One union banner is said to have read: "Neither plague nor cholera," over the choice of candidates, the Telegraph reports.

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