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Police protest video criticised

Campaigners have hit out after a video posted on the internet appeared to show French police dragging off women, some with young children and one visibly pregnant, from a protest in a Paris suburb.

A video shot by a member of a housing-rights group showed police wearing leg protection pulling women, some with babies on their backs, and in one case dragging a woman across the ground with her infant trailing behind in the dirt, from an encampment at a housing project.

No-one was injured in the July 21 operation in La Courneuve, local officials said, but human rights advocates denounced the "brutal evacuation" of some 200 people.

Family Planning, an international women's health group, issued a statement saying it was "scandalised, shocked, outraged and even sickened by the conditions" of the mass evacuation of women and children.

MRAP, a leading human rights group, said people in the video had all been expelled from previous housing and provided with no long-term solutions.

The immigrant African squatters physically resisted, "attaching themselves to each other, lying down, sometimes kicking and hitting police," the government of the Seine-Saint-Denis region around La Corneuve said.

The evacuation was handled "according to legal procedures and rules in such circumstances," and no-one was injured, it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he wants to revoke the French citizenship of immigrants who put the lives of police officers in danger as part of a "national war" on delinquency.

In a speech in Grenoble, the site of recent urban unrest, Sarkozy said that the current list of causes for revoking French nationality would be re-evaluated and "rights and benefits" accorded to illegal immigrants would be reviewed.

The French president, a former interior minister, has projected a law-and-order image and named Eric Le Douaron, a former police official, as prefect, the highest state authority, for the region around Grenoble after youths and police clashed this month at a housing project that is home to many immigrants.

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