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France

Police clash with anti-Front National protesters in Brittany capital

Front National leader Marine Le Pen
Front National leader Marine Le Pen Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Four protesters were arrested in the western French city of Rennes after clashes between police and opponents of the far-right Front National (FN), which was holding an election meeting in a hall associated with the local labour movement on Saturday evening.

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About 700 demonstrators turned out to the protest called by unions, left-wing parties and anti-racist groups but police kept them away from the La Cité hall, where Gérard de Mellon, the leading FN candidate in the city in March's local council elections, was to hold a meeting.

After being pelted with objects by the demonstrators, according to local prefect Patrick Strzoda, the police used water cannon and teargas against the left-wing protesters.

Some then went on to try to occupy the headquarters of the FN and the Socialist Party, which controls the local council in the Breton capital and had allowed the meeting to Marine Le Pen's party to use the venue.

The windows of two banks, an estate agent and a police station were broken.

The meeting started late, at about 9.00pm, with about 100 people in attendance.

La Cité was built as a 'house of the people" in 1925 and served as a meeting place for unions and left-wig groups until becoming a cinema in 1960.

It was declared a historical monument in 1997 and is currently owned by the city council.

The FN has accused Interior Minister Manuel Valls of "protecting thugs" who used "unheard-of violence" against it.

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