The largest security operation in modern French history will unfold today against rioters who want to bring “fire and blood” to the streets – days after a state visit by King Charles was canceled due to the violence.
Gerald Darmanin, the country’s interior minister, said it would involve an “unprecedented effort” by the forces of law and order.
Up to a million people are expected to join rallies against President Emmanuel Macron for raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.
“The extremist elements of the left and the far left want to hijack the union processions,” Darmanin said.
“Their goal is to bring fire and blood to France,” he added, noting that 13,000 police and gendarmes will be mobilized, including 5,500 in Paris alone. They will be supported by armored cars, water cannons and reserve military units.
Today, the largest security operation in modern French history will unfold to combat hooligans who want to spread “fire and blood” on the streets, as protests continue against Macron’s pensions. Pictured: Riot police detain a protester in Paris last week
Gerald Darmanin, the country’s interior minister, said today’s security operation will involve an “unprecedented effort” by the forces of law and order. Pictured: Riot police pass by burning wooden pallets on the streets of Paris
Protesters set a burning barrier across railway tracks at a station during today’s demonstration in Brittany, western France.
Darmanin – who made British headlines last year when he and other French officials wrongly blamed Liverpool Football Club fans for crowd trouble ahead of the Champions – said: ‘The Home Office services foresee very high risks of public disorder. League final in Paris in May.
The problems that day have since been blamed on police weakness, with Darmanin and other officials criticizing Liverpool fans’ false accusations of unrest.
Darmanin said of the planned protests that “more than 1,000 militant elements, some of them coming from abroad” would target Paris, Lyon, Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux and other cities.
The most feared group is the Black Bloc – a coalition of anarchists from all over Europe, who are expected to be out of power.
Laurent Nunez, head of the police mandate in Paris, told France Inter radio that the security services believed that more people bent on violence could join the protests and that the police should be ready.
“We are talking about individuals who are often monitored by the intelligence services… and we are very vigilant about their presence,” Nunez said.
King Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, were supposed to be in Bordeaux today as part of a four-day state visit to France, but it was canceled on Friday.
The attacks included an attempt to burn down the town hall in the southwest of the city, where the guilds vowed to barricade the royal couple.
The protest movement is the biggest domestic crisis in Macron’s second term, with strikes today also affecting refineries, container groups, rail transport, air travel and schools.
Up to a million people are expected to join rallies against President Emmanuel Macron for raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote. Pictured: French riot officers confront protesters in Bordeaux, southwestern France
Thousands of protesters have been seen marching through the streets of Paris this month
Laurent Nunez, head of the police mandate in Paris, told France Inter radio that the security services believed that more people bent on violence could join the protests and that the police should be ready. Pictured: Riot police watch as protesters march through Paris
Employees carry banners and union flags as they block the entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris yesterday to denounce the controversial state pension reform.
The strikers closed the Louvre Museum in Paris, while sit-ins continued at petrol depots and waste incinerators, particularly around the capital, where 10,000 tons of rubbish had accumulated.
Dozens of railway workers carrying flags and torches marched along tracks outside Gare de Lyon – one of Paris’ main railway stations, while motorways were closed in several other French cities this morning.
The French Petroleum Association UFIP, citing data from the French Energy Ministry, said that about 17 percent of all gas stations in France are missing at least one product.
The UNEF student union said entrances to about 20 universities including Sciences Po and parts of the Sorbonne in Paris as well as institutions in Lyon, Nice and Toulouse were also closed.
The crisis intensified with lawyers complaining of excessive violence and arbitrary arrests by teams of paramilitary police.
A 30-year-old man was fighting for his life in a coma today after being repeatedly hit on the head with a police baton during a riot over the weekend.
In turn, Mr. Darmanin said: “Several police officers were seriously injured.”
Despite the violence and industrial paralysis, Macron and his Prime Minister Elisabeth Born said there was no chance of backtracking on a major pension reform. We have to find the right way, we need to calm down,” said Mrs. Bourne.
Rioters march around a high-rise fire in Bordeaux as police officers stand guard
A riot police officer was struck by fireworks in Paris last week during protests and riots
Riot police officers chased club-wielding protesters through Paris last week
But Laurent Berger, president of the moderate CFDT union, said the protests would continue until there was a U-turn.
Millions of people have been demonstrating, largely peacefully, and joining the strike since mid-January to show their opposition to Macron’s plans to have most work two more years to 64.
But public frustration has developed into broader anti-Macron sentiment.
Protests have intensified since the government used special constitutional powers to bypass parliament in a final vote on the pension law nearly two weeks ago, sparking chaos reminiscent of the unrest of yellow vest supporters during Macron’s first term as president.