Fresh Clashes As French Protests Continue

by
staphni
"(CNN)
Fresh clashes broke out Wednesday between protesters and police in France as hundreds of thousands rallied in opposition to planned pension reforms. Cars were set alight and buildings damaged in the Paris suburb of Nanterre while a van was set ablaze in Lyon, according to Agence France-Presse.

A week-long strike has caused chaos across France with more than a third of French gas stations running dry on Tuesday, according to the government. Air and rail travel has also been disrupted, with unions blockading access roads to Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told ministers Wednesday he had ordered police to break the blockades at fuel depots, with three peacefully reopened overnight.

iReport: Are you there? Send pictures, images ""For millions of our citizens, transportation is a vital issue. This is a fundamental freedom,"" Sarkozy said.

The government is working to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and make other changes to the pension system with Senate lawmakers due to vote on the proposals on Thursday.French senators stayed in the chamber until 3 a.m. Tuesday, working their way through roughly 1,000 amendments to the bill. About 1.1 million people have demonstrated across the country, French media quoted police as saying.

Unions put the figure at 3.5 million nationwide, with the rolling strike in its second week."