Traditional May Day rally in Paris was marred by violence on Wednesday as a group of masked people clashed with anti-riot police, injuring at last three police officers, while more than 300 people have been arrested, according to local media, Trend reports citing Reuters.
A policeman was hurt in his head after being pelted by cobblestone. He was evacuated to hospital. Two others were also reported wounded following violent scuffles with radical activists that have hijacked the march, news channel BFMTV reported.
Dressed mostly in black, hooded people had converged at the front of the demonstration in Montparnasse Boulevard in Paris as the inter-union procession was to start at 2:30 p.m. local time (1230 GMT). They threw stones and bottles at anti-riot police and smashed a van's windows.
Dubbed as Balck Blocks, they moved towards riot police, chanting anti-capitalism slogans. Some torched motorbikes and vandalized properties in Place de l'Italie, eastern Paris. The police fired tear gas.
According to Paris police headquarters, 288 individuals were arrested by 5:00 p.m. local time, with 220 remaining in custody on charges of committing violent acts and degradations.
Some protesters tried to storm a police station in the Paris's 13th district and in the eastern city of Besancon.
Amid risks of violence escalation, prefecture urged peaceful protesters to break away from rioters who called on social media to make Paris "the capital of rioting."
With orders from President Emmanuel Macron to take an "extremely firm stance" against any kind of violence, more than 7,400 policemen were deployed across Paris, with identity checks and bag searches being reinforced, especially in sensitive sites including train stations.
"Immediate response, arrests, intervention: police, gendarmes and firefighters are more than ever mobilized. No abuse should be tolerated on the sidelines of the demonstrations," Paris prefecture said in a Twitter message.
Fearing violence and destruction of public properties, authorities have barricaded the neighborhood near the Elysee Palace, the National Assembly and Notre Dame Cathedral.
They also called on shops, restaurants and cafes along the route of the rally to close by Wednesday afternoon, erect barricades and board up windows for fear of looting.