Tensions flare in French protests as pension dispute grinds on

PARIS (AFP) – Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to streets across France on Thursday in the latest mass protests against a pensions overhaul that critics say could cut benefits even while requiring people to work longer before retiring.

Tensions flared in Paris and other cities as some black-clad protesters smashed glass-panelled shopfronts and bus stops, while others hurled paving stones against police who tried to disperse crowds with tear gas.

It was the fourth day of demonstrations since the protest began on December 5 with a massive public transport strike now in its 36th day. Police said at least 24 people had been detained in Paris, where 56,000 people marched toward the Saint-Lazare train station, according to the Interior Ministry.

A protestor is arrested by riot police officers during a demonstration in Paris. PHOTO: AP