250,000 people raill against controversial labour law in France

Protests have turned violent in France as at least 250,000 people rallied against a controversial new labour law.

The worst violence was in Paris, where riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and was reported in some of the other 80 cities holding rallies.

Protesters object to new two-year job contracts for under-26s which employers can break off without explanation.

President Jacques Chirac has appealed for talks, but says the new law is important to fight unemployment.

The march in Paris, which police said was attended by 30,000 but which organisers put at 120,000-strong, was mainly peaceful.

However, a group of about 300 masked protesters threw missiles at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

A newspaper stand and a number of cars were set on fire and protesters at the symbolic Sorbonne University - where street protests shook France in 1968 - pelted police with stones and bottles and chanted slogans comparing them to the Nazi SS.

Clashes went on into the evening and the interior ministry said there had been about 150 arrests in Paris, along with at least 50 more elsewhere.

Two officers and a student were slightly hurt in scuffles in the northern Paris suburb of Raincy.

Six people were arrested and two officers hurt in Vitry-sur-Seine, south-east of Paris, reports BBC news.


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