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French Police Brandishing Rifles Against Yellow Vest Protestors

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French riot control officers responding to ‘Yellow Vest’ protests have been seen equipped with loaded Heckler and Koch G36 semi-automatic rifles, as the protests against the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macron continue into their seventh week.

This comes as a former French education minister, Luc Ferry, has called for French police to open fire on who he perceives as violent demonstrators. Previously, police responding to the populist protests had deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and other crowd dispersion techniques, often with mixed results.

Despite attempts by Macron to ameliorate the mass backlash against his neoliberal policies, the ongoing working-class demonstrations show no signs of coming to a halt anytime soon. Having achieved their initial policy goal of getting Macron’s government to scrap a planned diesel fuel tax, many of the ‘gilet jaunes’ protestors are focusing on issues central to the working class’s quality of life in France, such as cost of living, declining wages, and rising prices.

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More than 80,000 police officers are said to have been preparing for this weekend’s rounds of protests, in which demonstrators have selected locations away from the capital of Paris, such as the smaller city of Bourges. It remains to be seen if armed police officers prove to be an effective counter-measure against incidents of riotous and supposedly violent demonstrations

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Hostilities Explode As Armenia, Azerbaijan Fight Over Disputed Nagorno-Karabakh Region

Dozens have been killed.

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Intense combat broke out between the military forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the weekend, with the two west Asian countries intensifying a conflict over the disputed territory known of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Reports indicate that more than thirty fighters between the two sides were killed over the weekend.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s (also known as Artsakh) pro-Armenian local government claimed that the Armenians had destroyed 20 UAV’s, 3 helicopters, and thirty tanks or fighting vehicles of the Azerbaijani armed forces.

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The Armenian ministry of defense has confirmed that more than 200 of its personnel fighting in the conflict have been wounded. It’s possible casualties could explode over the week if Azerbaijan continues its attempt to conquer towns and villages administered by the Artsakh government.

The small territory is inhabited by a majority Armenian population, who wholly support the region’s integration into Armenia. Ethnic warfare over the area first erupted in 1988 as the two nations separated from the collapsing Soviet Union, and has flared up intermittently since then.

The region is largely internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and Azeri attempts to assert sovereignty over the mountainous region have been met with fierce resistance from the local population before. The fighting exploded over the weekend when Azerbaijan attempted to move its military personnel into the area, and it appears that the latest round of fighting has been the most vicious so far.

The warfare escalated when Armenia accused Azerbaijan of deploying artillery and airstrikes against pro-Armenian fighters in the region, with Azerbaijan claiming it only used the weapons in response to Armenian attacks of the same variety.

Armenia is Christian, and Azerbaijan is Muslim. The former has conditional backing from the Russian Federation, while Azerbaijan is staunchly supported by neighboring Turkey. Many Armenians are staunch in their defense of the region as an Armenian territory, citing the legacy of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of the Armenian population of Anatolia following World War I.

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