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France

New Year fireworks on Champs Elysées, man shot dead in Marseille

media New Year fireworks at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world celebrated the New Year on Paris's Champs Elysées avenue amid tight security. Elsewhere in France a man was gunned down 10 minutes before midnight in the southern city of Marseille and a man was killed by a falling tree in the French Basque Country.

Despite rain, wind and the ever-present fear of a terror attack, the traditional fireworks and sound-and-light show went ahead in central Paris as a huge crowd welcomed in 2018.

More than 1,800 police were on duty in the area, searching people as they filtered through several kilometres of barriers.

"It's good that in a country like ours we can continue to party," Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said when he visited the Champs Elysées earlier in the evening. "Even if people around the world don't want any more parties, we want to continue to have this freedom to get the most out of life."

The crowd on the Champs Elysées on New Year's Eve Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

Cars set on fire

In what has become something of a tradition, a number of cars were set on fire across the country, despite the efforts of the 140,000 police on duty overnight.

But figures reported seem lower than on previous years and in one town in the Paris region, Aulnay, a group of about 20 mothers patrolled their estate to prevent vandalism.

Aulnay was the scene of rioting in 2017 after police allegedly sexually assaulted a young man with a truncheon.

In Strasbourg, near the German border, 20 people were injured, three of them seriously, after handling firecrackers.

Man shot dead in Marseille

In the southern port city of Marseille a 29-year-old man was shot dead by a Kalashnikov-wielding assailant as he left a bar and headed for his car.

Twenty-nine cartridges were found at the scene.

"I thought it was fire-crackers," a neighbour told France Bleu Provence radio.

The man was known to police but police do not believe the murder was drug-related.

As Storm Carmen approached the country, a man in his 60s was killed when a tree fell on his car in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the south-west.

Earlier in the weekend two skiers died, one nearby in the Pyrenees, the other in the Alps in the south-east.

Fire in New Caledonia hotel

Fire-crackers were believed to be the cause of a fire in a luxury hotel in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia.

At least four bungalows at the Sheraton de Deva beach resort were destroyed by the flames, which were set off by guests breaking a ban on setting off fire-crackers in their rooms, according to staff.

Minister with troops in Mali

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly brought in the New Year with 200 French soldiers in a huge tent in Tessalit, the northern-most posting of French troops in Mali.

France's Barkhane operation was launched in 2014, taking over from a previous mission in response to the 2013 revolt by armed Islamists and Tuareg separatists.

"This is my first New Year with our troops and I am extremely honoured to spend it here with you," she told the assembled military personnel.

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