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Sarkozy calls in cops


rhondathompson, [email protected]

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PARIS — With a quarter of France’s gasoline stations empty of fuel, President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday ordered police to reopen all fuel depots currently blocked by protesters opposed to his plan to raise the retirement age.
Three fuel depots in western France were opened by police overnight without arrests, but a day after widespread protest marches, there were more incidents of violence between rioting youth and police, especially in the Parisian suburb
of Nanterre and in the city of Lyon, where tear gas was used.
Television footage showed riot police with raised batons charging overnight into crowds of protesters trying to blockade fuel supplies.
In Nanterre, youths with hoods and scarves to hide their faces clashed with riot police near a high school that has been the site of earlier violence, and, in Lyon, protestors looted stores and fought with police, sometimes setting fire to cars.
Protestors intermittently blocked the highway to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, causing some passengers to have to walk along the side of the road with their luggage. Intercity rail services were running at two-thirds their normal schedule and regional rail at about half, officials said.
In Marseille, officials said that they would use 150 city employees to help clear away mounds of garbage, while some protestors used trucks to block tunnels in the early hours of the morning and shut down bus and tram services.
Demonstrators also tried to block airports in Nantes, Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand, while the port of Marseille remained closed, with some 50 oil tankers waiting offshore to unload.
French drivers hunted for gasoline, some of them calling the local police to ask what stations still had supplies.
Often refills were limited to 30 litres. France’s 11 active refineries remain on strike, though officials ordered employees at one of them to return to work. (New York Times)

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