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Protests

Paris police arrest scores as pro-Palestinian demo turns violent

French police have arrested more than 70 people at a banned protest against Israel's offensive in Gaza. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve blamed troublemakers for purposely causing violence.

Parisian police said on Saturday that they had arrested 70 people after a protest against the Israeli actions in Gaza grew violent.

The rally, which drew some 4,000 people to the French capital's Place de la Republique, saw police respond with tear gas after being targeted with rocks and other missiles by hooded members of the crowd. Some 12 police officers were said to have been injured.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve admitted that the majority of those protesting had been peaceful "there were troublemakers at this demonstration," he said. Most of those arrested were subsequently released.

"There were 70 arrests and 30 have been detained, some of whom had significant weapons, including clubs... and knuckle-dusters," said Cazeneuve.

Organizers of the demonstration were warned in advance that they would be held accountable for unrest and liable to penal sanctions, after an effort to overturn the ban failed. Other marches have been banned out of fear that they might become a focus for anti-Semitic sentiment.

The Gaza conflict has stirred simmering resentments in France, which is home to both the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Western Europe, with five million and half a million respectively.

Paris was also the venue on Saturday for US Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his counterparts from EU and Arab League states for talks on transforming the short term peace into a longer term one.

Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip have so far killed more than 1,000 civilians since Israel launched an offensive aimed at stopping rockets being launched into its territory from Gaza.

Israel announced on Saturday that it would extend a ceasefire begun earlier in the day by a further 24 hours, until midnight on Sunday.

rc/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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