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France hit by new wave of protests

Several thousand workers from the public and private sectors demonstrated yesterday in Marseille, in southern France. Several thousand workers from the public and private sectors demonstrated yesterday in Marseille, in southern France. (claude paris/Associated Press)
Associated Press / March 20, 2009
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PARIS - More than 1 million people marched in France yesterday to demand that the government do more to overcome the economic crisis, but planned strikes failed to fulfill a key goal - to paralyze the country.

Skirmishes between several hundred youths and riot police broke out in the square where the Paris march of at least 85,000 ended. Police said the youths - some of them hooded - set garbage cans on fire and showered police with bottles and stones, injuring nine officers.

Police said they detained 49 of the estimated 500 youths as they worked to empty the Place de la Nation in eastern Paris.

France's economy, which was sluggish even before the crisis, is now reeling. The country's national statistics agency said yesterday the economy is shrinking at the fastest pace in more than 30 years. The Interior Ministry said 1.2 million protesters turned out for about 200 protest marches around the country. Union officials put that figure at 3 million and said that 350,000 marched through the capital.

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