Police clash with pension demonstrators for second night in Paris

Riot police clashed with protesters for a second night in Paris as demonstrations continued against the government’s plans to raise the French pension age.

The growing unrest since the start of the year, which has resulted in a wave of strikes and rubbish piling up on the streets of the French capital, has left President Emmanuel Macron with the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called “Gilets Jaunes” or “Yellow Vest” protests of December 2018.

Police fired tear gas on Friday night to deal with crowd disorder as protesters gathered in the Place de la Concorde, near the Assemblee Nationale parliament building.

“Macron, Resign!” chanted some demonstrators, as they squared up to a line of riot police.

The protest at Paris’s elegant Place de Concorde started with a festive spirit as several thousand demonstrators chanted, danced and lit a huge bonfire. But it soon degenerated into a scene echoing Thursday night as riot police charged and used tear gas to empty the square while some protesters lobbed fireworks and threw paving stones at police.

On Thursday night, police also baton-charged the crowds and used water cannons while small groups, then set street fires in chic neighbourhoods nearby.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told radio station RTL that 310 people were arrested overnight, most of them in Paris.

Scattered protests were also held in cities around France – from a march in Bordeaux to a rally in Toulouse.

Port officers in Calais temporarily stopped ferries from crossing the English Channel to Dover. Some university campuses in Paris were blocked and protesters occupied a high-traffic ring road around the French capital.

Paris rubbish collectors have extended their strike for a 12th day, with piles of foul-smelling rubbish growing in the streets. Striking sanitation workers also continued to block Europe’s largest incineration site and two other sites that treat rubbish from the capital.

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