French union protests turn violent, 58 arrested

Police in Paris used tear gas and water cannons to control rioters who hurled bricks at police. In all, 41 people were injured, most of them police officers. Reuters reports:


The Paris police department reported 58 arrests, including many foreigners, with 24 police and 17 protesters injured…

The hardline CGT labor union had called for a large turnout in Tuesday’s protest march to demonstrate that opposition to the labor reform remains strong despite waning turnout at rallies and strikes. Its call appeared to have been heeded.

Police put the turnout at 75,000-80,000 in Paris alone, roughly three times more than a previous highpoint. Unions, whose figures always substantially exceed police estimates, put the tally at up to 1.3 million.

Unions in France have been protesting labor-market reforms, essentially changes that would make it easier for employers to hire and fire people. France has been struggling with two years of slow (to no) growth and high unemployment. The Associated Press published raw video of some of the clashes:

RT also has video showing a standoff between the rioters and police. In one shot you can see hundreds of bricks in the street at the officer’s feet.

French police were already feeling under siege after a terrorist murdered police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his partner at their home Monday night. The terrorist then took the couple’s 3-year-old son hostage. Reuters reports:

Larossi Abballa, 25, also took the couple’s three-year-old son hostage in Monday night’s attack. The boy was found unharmed but in a state of shock after police commandos stormed the house and killed the attacker.

Born in France of Moroccan origin, Abballa was jailed in 2013 for helping Islamist militants go to Pakistan and had been under security service surveillance, including wiretaps, at the time of the attack, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The attacker told police negotiators during the siege he had answered an appeal by Iraq-based Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “to kill infidels at home with their families”, Molins told a news conference.

“The killer said he was a practicing Muslim, was observing Ramadan and, that three weeks ago, he had pledged allegiance to … Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” Molins said.


Abballa also posted a video to Facebook from the scene of the murder in which he admitted to the killings and said the couple was targeted because they worked for the police. He called on other Muslims to follow his lead and warned that the Euro 2016 soccer tournament taking place now would become “a graveyard.”

The French police published photos of the two victims of Monday’s attack:

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