Clashes erupted in the western French city of Nantes one week after 21-year-old activist Rémi Fraisse was killed apparently by a police grenade.
Several riot police and protesters were injured as Saturday’s demonstration descended into running battles on the city streets.
Police said more than a dozen people had been arrested and at least four injured. They included a woman whose legs were caught in the blast from a crowd-control grenade.
Some protesters threw acid-filled bottles at riot police, injuring one officer, according to Henri-Michel Comet, the regional prefet (governor).
“These are groups who have come in search of violent altercations with the police,” Comet said on BFM Television.
“This is unbelievable in a calm city like Nantes, a few demonstrators have come here just to riot, so it’s not legitimate at all,” noted one man.
“It’s a shame because out of around 100 people here, only a small minority are rioting,” said a woman.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has dismissed calls for his resignation over Fraisse’s death.
Violence also erupted in the southern French city of Toulouse.
It was here that Rémi Fraisse was found dead one week ago after a standoff between police and opponents to a local dam project.
Tests on his clothing and backpack suggest Fraisse was killed by an “offensive grenade,” authorities have said.
The device apparently landed between the backpack he was wearing and his clothes. It became caught and then exploded.
Used by police to disperse riots, the grenades were not previously thought capable of causing death.
The wetlands dam environmental protest camp has become somewhat of a memorial to the 21-year-old.
Leaders of France’s Green Party, one-time government partners of President Francois Hollande’s Socialists, have critised ministers for not condemning his apparent killing more forcefully.
An investigation into the incident is underway.