May 2, 2018 / 7:36 AM / 23 days ago

France to step up security before next protests after May Day violence: minister

PARIS (Reuters) - France will increase police numbers for the next round of protests over economic reforms after violent clashes marred the annual May Day rally in Paris, interior minister Gerard Collomb said on Wednesday.

Tear gas floats around masked protesters during clashes with French CRS riot police at the May Day labour union rally in Paris, France May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Police said 109 people had been held in custody after Tuesday’s clashes, when masked and hooded anarchists hijacked the traditional May 1 rally held by labour unions, smashing shop windows and torching cars in parts of Paris.

Further demonstrations are planned later this week, in protest against economic reform plans by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“There will be an even greater number of security forces ... who will aim to separate those who wish to demonstrate from those who wish to vandalise,” Collomb told France 2 television on Wednesday.

Collomb defended how the police had handled the demonstration on Tuesday, although opposition politicians criticised the government for not having done enough to prevent the violence.

Authorities said around 1,200 protesters, many dressed in black, had turned up on the sidelines of the annual May Day demonstration. The protesters were from far-left anarchist groups known as Black Blocs, police said.

Macron, speaking during an official trip to Australia, condemned the violence.

Tear gas floats around masked protesters during clashes with French CRS riot police at the May Day labour union rally in Paris, France May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Reporting by Sophie Louet and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Alison Williams

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