109 in custody in Paris over May Day violence

Philippines moves to halt Kuwait migrant row

Philippines moves to halt Kuwait migrant row

President Emmanuel Macron, elected last May on a promise to shake up France's creaking economy and spur jobs growth, is locked in a battle with the trade unions over his plans to liberalize labor regulations.

Labour unions put the number of peaceful protesters at Tuesday's main May Day rally at about 55 000, though police put it a just 20 000.

Hundreds of masked protesters left scenes of devastation in Paris as they ransacked shops and fought with police amid the worst violence in the French capital since May 1968.

Protesters smashed windows of businesses, including a Renault garage and McDonald's restaurant in eastern Paris.

Riot police in full gear deployed water cannon and tear gas to control the left-actions on the streets of Paris Tuesday but were unable to prevent major damage to property, including business premises and many vehicles destroyed.

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"Activists from extremist anti-establishment groups are looking, during the traditional May 1 demonstration, to lash out violently against law enforcement as well as symbols of capitalism", the Paris police said in a statement. "When you come with Molotov cocktails, it's to burn cops", he said, pointing to clashes on 1 May a year ago that saw one police officer seriously burnt.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the protesters for covering up their faces. Numerous rioters are hiding their faces with masks. Rail staff have begun three months of nationwide strikes over a planned overhaul of state-run railway SNCF.

Police said the Black Blocs had mixed into a smaller demonstration of around 14,500 people which took place alongside the official union rally.

There is widespread discontent in labour unions over Mr Macron's reforms.

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