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Paris Tamil protest turns violent, more than 200 arrested

Latest update : 2009-04-21

French police arrested 210 people on Monday when a demonstration in central Paris staged by Tamils angry at the situation in their native Sri Lanka turned violent. France is home to an estimated 70,000 Tamils.

AFP - French police arrested 210 people on Monday as a demonstration in central Paris by Tamils angry at the situation in Sri Lanka turned violent.
  
"French people, react", "Sarkozy, help us" chanted several hundred demonstrators as they gathered near the Gare du Nord train station for the protest, which had not been declared to the authorities.
  

The demonstration quickly turned violent as protestors began turning over bins and throwing bottles at police.
  
One policeman was among four people injured, said the authorities, who held 164 of the 210 people initially detained for further questioning.
  
The windscreens of three buses, two cars and a lorry were smashed and a scooter set on fire, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
  
Police said the demonstrators might be charged with belonging to an "armed gathering" as the bottles they threw could be considered weapons.
  
Last week the Sri Lankan government sacked Norway as the island's peace broker, officially turning the page on a decade of internationally backed efforts to end a war that has cost an estimated 70,000 lives.
  
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels have retreated into a 20-square kilometre area that the government had designated as a "safe zone" for beleaguered civilians. Remnants of the rebel army are still resisting.
  
The United Nations has said both sides in the long-running ethnic war may be guilty of war crimes, with the government accused of shelling civilian areas and the Tigers of keeping people hostage.
  
The Sri Lankan government on Monday gave Tamil Tiger fighters and their leader 24 hours to surrender after tens of thousands of trapped civilians managed to flee from the last area under rebel control.
  
The demonstrators in Paris were distributing leaflets accusing the Sri Lankan army of having killed 1,496 Tamil civilians on Monday, including 476 children. There was no official confirmation of Tamil civilian deaths.
  
The protestors later dispersed, while a strong police presence remained.
  
There were similar protests on Monday in London, where thousands of Tamils blocked some of the busiest streets, demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament for an immediate ceasefire.
  
Paris witnessed a peaceful protest by some 11,000 Tamils on Saturday. France is home to an estimated 70,000 Tamils.
  

Date created : 2009-04-21

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