November 1, 2014 / 6:19 PM / 3 years ago

French police clash with demonstrators over protester death

2 Min Read

A demonstrator dressed as an angel faces French riot police officers during a rally in Marseille, October 31, 2014.Jean-Paul Pelissier

NANTES/TOULOUSE France (Reuters) - French riot-control officers clashed with hooded demonstrators in Nantes and Toulouse on Saturday, a week after the death of a young activist apparently killed by a police grenade.

Several police and protesters were injured as both demonstrations descended into running battles between protesters hurling projectiles and riot police firing tear gas.

The violence erupted after several hundred people gathered in each city to protest the death of Rémi Fraisse, 21, who was found dead on Oct. 26 with a wound to his back, after a standoff between police and opponents of a dam project in the Testet wetlands, near the southern city of Toulouse.

Tests on his clothing and backpack suggest Fraisse was killed by a so-called "offensive grenade", authorities have said. Used by police to disperse riots, the explosive devices were not previously thought capable of causing death.

In Nantes, the center of long-running protests against plans for a new airport nearby, police said more than a dozen people had been arrested and at least four injured on Saturday. They included a 21-year-old woman whose legs were caught in the blast from another type of crowd-control grenade.

Protesters threw acid-filled bottles at riot police, injuring one officer, according to Henri-Michel Comet, the regional prefet, or governor.

"These are groups who have come in search of violent altercations with the police," Comet said on BFM Television.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has dismissed calls for his resignation over Fraisse's death.

Leaders of France's Green Party, one-time government partners of President François Hollande's Socialists, have criticized ministers for not condemning the apparent killing more forcefully.

Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Larry King

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