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French interior minister backs off hospital ‘attack’ claim

May 3, 2019
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Demonstrators confront police during a May Day rally in Paris, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Brief scuffles between police and protesters have broken out in Paris as thousands of people gather for May Day rallies under tight security measures. Police used tear gas to control the crowd gathering near Paris' Montparnasse train station. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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Demonstrators confront police during a May Day rally in Paris, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Brief scuffles between police and protesters have broken out in Paris as thousands of people gather for May Day rallies under tight security measures. Police used tear gas to control the crowd gathering near Paris' Montparnasse train station. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — France’s interior minister is backing off allegations that anti-government protesters carried out an “attack” on a hospital during a chaotic May Day demonstration that saw marchers scale a fence and enter the facility’s grounds.

Under pressure over the disputed events, Christophe Castaner acknowledged that “I should not have used the term” in describing what happened Wednesday at Pitie Salpetriere University Hospital. But he insisted that the intrusion was violent and remained under investigation.

Authorities detained and then released 32 people.

The director of the Paris public hospital system has said dozens of people scaled the fence and tried to storm an emergency exit in a post-surgery ward. Activists with the yellow vest movement, among others, have suggested march participants were trying to escape police tear gas.

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