French police have detained 208 protestors and have kept 174 in custody following protests in Paris on Sunday ahead of the climate change conference.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve criticised the protests, saying that the acts of violence must be “firmly condemned”.
The clashes took place at the Place de la Republique, where flowers and candles had been left in memory for the 130 dead victims of the Paris attacks on November 13.
“Huge amounts” of tear gas were fired at protesters near Place de la Republique in central Paris, according to witnesses’ reports on Twitter, with objects flying in the direction of security forces.
The march, which was set to take place in dozens of cities around the world, was restricted in the French capital falling under the ban on gatherings introduced after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) November 29, 2015
La Republique metro station, closest to the scene, has been closed by authorities, citing security measures. The riot police repeatedly attempted to push back the activists, spraying the crowds with tear gas.
Ahead of the summit, 24 green activists were put under house arrest, with police saying they were suspected of planning violent protests, according to Reuters.
Over 200 people were arrested in the scuffles, AFP reported citing officials. The detained protesters were found to have been in possession of projectiles and other suspicious objects, AP cited Paris police chief Michel Cadot as saying.
About 200 to 300 people who violated the official protests ban during the state of emergency have been identified by police, Cadot added.
— Christophe Gueugneau (@gueugneau) November 29, 2015
While it was initially expected that some 400,000 people would gather in Paris ahead of UN climate change talks taking place at Le Bourget outside the capital, hundreds of activists took to the streets despite the emergency measures.
Protesters first formed a human chain, and then around 200 activists, some wearing masks, clashed with police on a street leading to the square, Reuters reported.
The important environmental meeting in Paris, known as COP21, will be attended by nearly 150 world leaders and about 22,000 other officials. During the two-week event, participants, including the world’s top three carbon-emitting countries (US, China and India), will attempt to reach a global deal on cutting carbon emissions to limit climate change and keep average global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius.
State leaders have expressed hope for progress, after most countries submitted pledges and measures to reduce their own CO2 emissions. But the UN, which seeks to impose top-down targets, has opposed the voluntary moves.