Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Police in France denounce 'anti-cop hatred'

Police car set alight with two officers inside in Paris during protest by force to decry violence directed at it.

Officers across France have taken to the streets to denounce violence that they say has been repeatedly directed at them.

Wednesday's rare demonstration by the law-enforcement officers coincided with an attack by protesters in Paris on a police car with two officers inside.

Paris police chief Michel Cadot said about 15 protesters, some masked, attacked the car and threw a Molotov cocktail at it, setting it alight.

The male driver was attacked when he got out of the car and was hospitalised. His female partner suffered slight injuries. An investigation for attempted homicide was filed.

Cadot denounced a level of violence "rarely reached, extremely shocking".

Protesters in Paris and elsewhere alleged the police instigated the violence seen during a series of demonstrations against a controversial labour-policy overhaul.

"Everybody hates the police!" they chanted at Paris' Place de la Republique, where several hundred police officers gathered on their lunch break to condemn "anti-cop hate".

The protesters were dispersed with pepper spray.

"We have colleagues who had broken legs, broken arms and serious cuts and burns. Another colleague was even in a critical condition after he was hit by a projectile. It's really gone too far," Gregory Goupil, a police officer at the rally, said.

'Escalation of violence'

Jean-Claude Delage, secretary general of the Alliance police union, denounced an "escalation of violence" in the labour protests and said some people were harassing police officers with projectiles and Molotov cocktails and even hitting them with bars.

"Trouble-makers provoke clashes in the middle of peaceful protests. So it's very complicated for police forces to isolate and arrest them," Delage said on BFM television.

French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that more than 350 police officers have been injured in clashes and 60 people convicted amid the protests against changes in labour policies.

Bernard Cazeneuve, interior minister, offered his "full support" to the police following the weekly cabinet meeting.

He said the police have instructions to take "firm action" against those involved in violent clashes.

"Anti-cop hatred comes from a small portion of the population ... but these 10 percent are very violent," Jean-Marc Falcone, general director of the police, told Europe 1 radio.

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