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Arrests after Paris student demo

FRENCH students threw bottles at police and broke shop windows in Paris overnight during a demonstration against government reforms, police said yesterday, ahead of a nationwide strike scheduled today.

Police arrested four people during the student march, which started late on Tuesday at the Tolbiac University in southern Paris and went all the way to the Barbes area in the north of the city, close to the tourist hub of Montmartre.

"All along the way the demonstrators damaged property. Lots of shop windows were hit by bottles. They also threw bottles at the security forces, but there was no police charge or fighting," said a police spokesman.

French universities have been hit for several months by a series of strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and sieges by both students and lecturers over several disputed government reforms.

Unions have called a nationwide strike across sectors and planned demonstrations all over France today to denounce President Nicolas Sarkozy's economic policies, and polls show the vast majority of French people support the protests.

The Le Canard Enchaine weekly quoted Sarkozy on Tuesday as saying he feared a repeat of the student-led May 1968 uprising, when rioters rocked Paris and strikers paralysed France.

The police spokesman did not know how many people were involved in the Paris fracas, but one student posted a message on the website of newspaper 20minutes saying there were about 1,000 or 1,500 protesters.


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