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Paris deploys 200 extra police to target UberPop

Reuters/Charles Platiau

Paris will deploy 200 special police to crack down on illegal taxi activities after cab drivers held violent protests last week against unfair competition from the ride-booking app UberPop. Meanwhile, two heads of Uber France were taken into custody questioning in a probe that was first opened in 2014.

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An Uber France spokesman confirmed to French news agency AFP that its director general Thibaud Simphal and director for Western Europe Pierre-Dimitri Gore Coty were being interrogated by police.

Uber's informal car-sharing has been hit with court injunctions in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and France.

The new police to be deployed in the French capital in the clampdown on the service are in addition to the 80 existing officers who monitor Parisian taxis.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says the special force will be tasked with apprehending anyone who is transporting paying customers without a licence, and that drivers risk having their vehicles seized.

UberPop, which allows anyone to sign up without a professional chauffeur licence and pick up fares through the Uber smartphone app, was ruled illegal by the French government last year. The law has been difficult to enforce, however, as the American company, which has not yet exhausted all legal recourse, tells its drivers to keep working.

Taxi drivers on strike last week blocked roads and access to major airports and railway stations in the country and set fire to vehicles.

French President Francois Hollande ordered police and prosecutors to immediately enforce the ban and said the UberPop service should be “dismantled and declared illegal."

Singer and actress Courtney Love fired off an angry tweet addressed to the French president Thursday, claiming that strikers had "ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage", adding "I'm safer in Baghdad."

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