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Tensions as Paris police clear migrant camp

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Workers clean a migrant camp after a police operation in Paris (AP)

Workers clean a migrant camp after a police operation in Paris (AP)

Workers clean a migrant camp after a police operation in Paris (AP)

Police have rounded up Afghan migrants and cleared away some of their tents in a makeshift camp in Paris as part of French government efforts to tackle the migrant crisis.

The operation in north-eastern Paris, near the Stalingrad subway station, was marked by tension and confusion.

Riot police forced the migrants back and formed a cordon around them, with some migrants retaliating by pushing back on riot shields.

Police and regional officials said the operation was aimed at verifying migrants' documents and sanitary conditions.

They insisted it was not a full-scale evacuation, though city officials cleared away some tents along a canal.

French president Francois Hollande said the Paris camp will be evacuated soon.

Such camps frequently surface in Paris, and authorities routinely clear them out and move some migrants to temporary shelter.

Aid groups say some of the Paris migrants recently fled a camp being dismantled in Calais, though Mr Hollande said most are from recent waves of migration to Europe via Libya.

Shikhali Mirzai, a young man who said he arrived in Paris from Afghanistan five days ago, said he did not understand why the police are destroying their tents.

"Where are these people going to sleep?" Mr Mirzai asked.

"It's very cold. It's very cold. This isn't a life, it's an animal's life."

Charity worker Houssam El Assimi, of local aid group La Chappelle Debout, held a sign reading "No to police raids against migrants".

He said Monday's operation was the 27th in the area in which police sort people based on whether they have papers and the right to seek asylum.

Regional authorities say they have cleared out more than 19,000 migrants from Paris since June 2015.

Meanwhile in Calais, authorities are finishing up the dismantling of a camp dubbed the "jungle" which has come to epitomise Europe's migrant crisis.

AP

PA