French PM calls for ‘harsh’ punishment after anti-police violence
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called for “harsh” punishment for those who set fire to a police car during a recent protest in central Paris.
“The punishment must be harsh, the inquiry has just started, arrests have been made,” Valls told RTL radio on Thursday.
A protest rally by police forces against “anti-cop hatred” in the capital descended into chaos on Wednesday.
A small group of people, possibly from a counter-demonstration at the same site, hammered a police car with iron bars and threw an explosive device into it.
The counter-rally had been planned to protest police brutality but had not been sanctioned.
Some 300 counter-protesters arrived shouting slogans such as “Cops, pigs, assassins” and “Everyone detests the police,” but were pushed back by riot police using tear gas.
Two police officers — a man and a woman — managed to escape the burning vehicle.
Security sources said four suspects were arrested on Wednesday and a fifth was detained on Thursday.
France has been the scene of often violent protests against the Socialist government’s planned changes to the country’s labor law in recent weeks.
The draft labor bill, which includes a loosening of the maximum 35-hour working week and a cap on redundancy payments, was recently forced through the lower house of parliament but must be debated in the Senate.
It has prompted many protests on the streets, which have faced police action.