French interior minister backs off hospital ‘attack’ claim

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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