French police clash with football fans in Lille

French police arrested 36 people in the city of Lille after disorder by football fans during the course of Wednesday, with more expected to have been taken into custody during the night.

The Euro 2016 football championship in France has so far been marred by fan violence, with at least 35 people injured last weekend in clashes between Russia and England supporters in the southern port city of Marseille.

Now both sets of fans are in Lille and more than 3,900 officers have been deployed in the region.

A police statement said 36 had been arrested by 00:30 am Thursday (2230 GMT Wednesday) and that several bars in the city had been asked to stop selling alcohol, or to close, owing to excessive drunkenness by fans.

Sixteen people were taken to hospital.

Police in riot gear patrolled the streets of Lille through the night, moving groups of England fans from place to place and deploying tear gas.

Fans were in the city for the England-Wales game scheduled for Thursday in Lens, 30 kilometres from Lille. Russia fans had witnessed their 2-1 defeat to Slovakia in Lille earlier on Wednesday. There was no violence in the stadium, although one flare was lit by Russian fans.

Six of those arrested were Russians implicated in the Marseille clashes, local police prefect Michel Lalande said earlier Wednesday.

A dpa witness said police used pepper spray, batons and tear gas against England supporters singing anti-Russian songs and throwing beer bottles.

Also Wednesday, 43 Russians were arrested in a bus bound for Lille.

Russia's Foreign Ministry was upset by the move and summoned French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert to complain about the "discriminatory character" of the detention.

"Further anti-Russian sentiment regarding our national team's participation in the European football championship has the power to substantially harm Russian-French relations," the Ministry said online.

The Marseille clashes broke out before and after Saturday's 1-1 draw between Russia and England. Governing body UEFA said Russia would be ejected from the tournament in case of any repeat inside a stadium.

Last update: Thu, 16/06/2016 - 11:36
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