PARIS – French anti-riot police fired tear gas Saturday as clashes erupted during protests in central Paris against COVID-19 restrictions and a vaccination campaign, television reported.

Police sought to push back demonstrators near the capital’s Gare Saint-Lazare railway station after protesters had knocked over a police motorbike ridden by two officers, television pictures showed.

Images showed a heavy police presence on the capital’s streets. Scuffles between police and demonstrators also broke out on the Champs-Elysees thoroughfare, where tear gas was fired and traffic was halted, the pictures showed.

Opposition to ‘dictatorship’

At another protest called by far-right politicians in west Paris, demonstrators opposed to anti-coronavirus measures carried banners reading “Stop the dictatorship.”

Across France, protests were planned in cities including Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes and Toulouse.

An official with France’s interior ministry said 161,000 people had demonstrated across the country on Saturday, up from 114,000 a week earlier.

French lawmakers are due to vote this weekend on a bill drafted by the government aimed at setting up a health pass and mandatory vaccination for health workers.

Source: Voice of America

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