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Banned Paris Climate March Turns Violent As Protesters Throw Memorial Candles At Police

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Over 200 people have been arrested in Paris after a climate change protest at the memorial site for the victims of the city's terrorist attacks turned violent, the Associated Press reported.

Protesters clashed with police officers at the Place de la Republique, trampling on top of candles and flowers laid out in memory of the 130 people killed in the wave of attacks in the city two weeks ago.

A planned march in the city was cancelled due to the state of emergency imposed after the 13 November attacks, but police say they identified about 200 or 300 people who violated the ban.

The protests ahead of next week's 2015 Paris Climate Conference began peacefully, but riot police later used tear gas to stop the advance of groups throwing projectiles including the memorial candles and glass bottles, officers said.

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Tear gas was sprayed at the crowds who threw candles at police

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Police arrest a man at the site of the tributes

The protests came as half a million people marched in 175 countries around the world to call on leaders to make commitments to help reduce climate change.

Campaign group Avaaz estimates that 570,000 people were on streets globally, making these the largest global climate marches n history.

In Paris where the banned protest was hit by violence, some in the crowd wore masks, and advanced in groups of several hundred, according to reports. Police fired numerous rounds of tear gas on protesters to disperse them.

France's interior minister said 208 people were arrested and 174 of them were being held for possible charges. There were no injuries.

Hundreds of pairs of shoes were placed at the Place de la Republique as as symbolic demonstration for a climate deal after the ban on marches was introduced.

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The shoes were placed to represent the forbidden march

French President Francois Hollande said the violence on Sunday was "scandalous", both because the clashes were caused by "disruptive elements" that were unconnected with the environmental defenders, and because the Place de la Republique is a memorial square for the 130 victims of the tragic Paris attacks.

"These individuals have no place and that's why everything will be done to move them aside," Hollande said from Brussels.

A well-known climate pressure group took its distance from the violence, saying the protesters were "unaffiliated with the climate movement."

In a statement, the climate group 350.org said that the violent protesters violated the nonviolent pledge that every group involved in the climate coalition had agreed to.

The statement expressed hope that France wouldn't clamp down further on freedoms during the conference following the incident.

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Meanwhile around the world, more than 10 countries witnessed their biggest-ever climate marches according to Avaaz, with 140,000 people marching in Australia, 50,000 in London and 20,000 in Rome.

A march took place in Sanaa, Yemen, despite bombs falling close to the start of the route, Avaaz said. There were also protests across India, in the the Pacific islands, Senegal, the Gambia and Cote d'Ivoire while in Kenya there was a march across the Equator.

Emma Ruby-Sachs, Campaign Director of Avaaz said: "The charge from the streets for leaders to act on climate has been deafening, with record numbers turning out across the world. Over 570,000 people are calling with one voice for global leaders to deliver a 100% clean energy future at the Paris climate summit.

"Despite events being cancelled across France, global actions were larger than last year's massive march in New York, breaking records in Bangladesh, Australia, Britain and more."

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  • Kena Betancur via Getty Images
  • JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images
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  • JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images
  • JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images

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