Policeman Engulfed in Flames After Protesters Firebomb Police in Paris May Day Demos

The officer was seriously wounded, police say ■ group of 150 masked protesters attacked police, Guardian reports

French CRS anti-riot police officers are engulfed in flames as they face protesters during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP

One French police officer was seriously burnt and two others injured in clashes at a May Day demonstration in Paris on Monday in which protesters threw Molotov cocktails and other missiles, the police said.

Television pictures showed policemen trying to shake flames from their riot gear, and of tear gas enveloping the streets around Paris' Bastille monument.

French CRS anti-riot police officers are engulfed in flames as they face protesters during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP
French CRS anti-riot police officers are engulfed in flames as they face protesters during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP
French CRS anti-riot police officers are engulfed in flames as they face protesters during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP

According to the Guardian, the street battle with the police began shortly after the Paris march, attended by thousands of participants, set off from Place de la Republique. A group of some 150 masked protesters armed with Molotov cocktails, stones and sticks forced their way to the front of the march and started lobbing missiles at the police, which responded with tear gas. 

This year's May Day came less than a week ahead of the final round of a presidential election where voters must choose between the far-right National Front's Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Protesters push a burning trolley towards French CRS anti-riot police officers during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP
A protester remove stones from the facade of a building during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP
A man holds a flags and smoke flare as he leads a march during the protest for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP
Demonstrators hold banners during a protest march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017.
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP
Riot police officers arrest a demonstrator as part of the May Day march, Monday May 1, 2017, in Paris.
Thibault Camus/AP

Some trade unionists and left-wing activists sought to make the day one of national solidarity against the National Front, mirroring protests in 2002 when Le Pen's father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, was a candidate. 

Marine Le Pen tweeted her support for the injured policemen and said the incident was the type of unacceptable behavior that she no longer wanted to see on French streets.

Divided france

The election has exposed some of the same sense of anger with globalization and political elites that brought Donald Trump to presidential power in the United States, and caused Britons to vote for a divorce from the EU.

The vote in the world's fifth largest economy, a key member of the NATO defense alliance, will be the first to elect a president from neither of the main political groupings. The Socialist and conservative party candidates were knocked out in the first round on April 23.

Between them Le Pen and Macron gathered only 45 percent of votes in that round, which eliminated nine other candidates.

The second round will take place in the middle of a weekend extended by a public holiday. A high abstention rate could favor Le Pen, whose supporters typically tell pollsters they are staunchly committed to their candidate.

She devoted much of her speech, lasting nearly an hour, to attacking Macron as the face of the establishment. He was due to speak at a Paris rally later in the day.

Referring to her plan to hold a referendum on whether France should remain in the EU, Le Pen said: "The French people will decide."