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15.07.2019 Europe

French police arrest 282 in unrest after Algeria football win

AFP/Zakaria Abdelkafi
JUL 15, 2019 EUROPE

Police arrested 282 people around France in unrest on the margins of celebrations of the Algerian football team's Africa Cup of Nations victory on Sunday evening, the government said Monday.

Celebrations erupted across France after Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 to advance to the Africa Cup of Naitons final for the first time in 29 years.

In the capital, supporters gathered on the emblematic Champs-Elysees avenue, which early in the day had been the site of the annual Bastille Day military parade marking the French national holiday, as well as rioting by a small number of Yellow Vest protesters.

In several minutes, hundreds of cars and motorcycles gathered around the Arc de Triomphe monument and a dense crowd amassed on the sidewalks.

“I'm so proud of my country and my team,” said Imen, a supporter with an Algerian flag wrapped around his shoulders, who had watched the match on his telephone.

“I'm very, very happy, and it also happens to be the national holiday [of France], so there are fireworks, too.”

But in Paris as in Marseille and Lyon, the celebrations were partly tarnished by incidents including barricades and fires in garbage cans.

In Marseille, several people were detained after lighting fires and throwing projectiles after security forces blocked access to the city's historic port.

The Interior Ministry said of the 282 arrests, 249 were still being held in custody.

It was not the first time celebrations have turned violent through the course of the tournament.

Fans went on the rampage looting shops in Paris on Thursday, following Algeria's victory over Cote d'Ivoire to reach the semi-finals.

The same day in Montpellier, a fan lost control of his car while travelling at a high speed and struck a family, killing a woman and seriously injuring her baby.

Paris and Marseille are home to large communities of Algerian origin, and football celebrations are occasionally a source of tensions.