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June 29, 2017

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French police officers hold second wildcat protest over anti-cop attacks

PARIS--Dozens of French police officers demonstrated Tuesday night in and around Paris and in the southern city of Marseille, the second wildcat protest in as many days over mounting attacks on officers.

Around 400 off-duty officers demonstrated outside a police station in the suburb of Evry, near a town where a firebomb attack on a squad car earlier this month left one officer fighting for his life.

The protesters, who were in plain clothes with orange police armbands, held aloft banners reading "Solidarity with our colleagues" and booed the visiting national police chief.

The police have been up in arms over attacks on officers during patrols in tough suburbs and recent demonstrations over labor reforms.

In May, a squad car was set alight in Paris with three officers inside. The three escaped without serious injury.

On Monday night, several hundred police in plain clothes took their protest to the ritzy Champs-Elysees in Paris, circling the Arc de Triomphe in police vehicles, sirens blaring.

"We're at the end of our tether," one officer told AFP, calling for more resources to be ploughed into crime fighting.

Dozens of officers in plain clothes have observed vigils the past two nights outside the Paris hospital where the officer whose car was petrol-bombed in the suburb of Viry-Chatillon on Oct. 8 lies in a coma.

The 28-year-old officer sustained severe burns in the attack by youths from a notorious housing estate. His female partner was also seriously injured.

Under French law, police may protest only when off duty, out of uniform and provided they leave their service weapons and vehicles behind.

In Marseille, around 100 police defied the restrictions Tuesday night, gathering in uniform in the pedestrianized Old Port in solidarity with their Paris peers.

President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Wednesday both expressed "support" for the police, with Cazeneuve promising to address their demands.

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