Protesters opposed to COVID measures clash with police in Paris

Protesters hold placards and banners during a demonstration called by the "yellow vest" (gilets jaunes) movement against France's restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Paris, France, July 24, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS, July 24 (Reuters) - French anti-riot police fired teargas on Saturday as clashes erupted during protests in central Paris against COVID-19 restrictions and a vaccination campaign, television reported.

Police sought to push back demonstrators near the capital's Gare Saint-Lazare railway station after protesters had knocked over a police motorbike ridden by two officers, television pictures showed.

Images showed a heavy police presence on the capital's streets. Scuffles between police and demonstrators also broke out the Champs-Elysees thoroughfare, where teargas was fired and traffic was halted, the pictures showed.

At another protest called by far-right politicians in west Paris, demonstrators opposed to anti-coronavirus measures carried banners reading "Stop the dictatorship".

Across France, protests were planned in cities including Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes and Toulouse.

An official with France's interior ministry said 161,000 people had demonstrated across the country on Saturday, up from 114,000 a week earlier.

French lawmakers are due to vote this weekend on a bill drafted by the government aimed at setting up a health pass and mandatory vaccination for health workers.

Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Helen Popper, Edmund Blair and Clelia Oziel

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