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French interior minister blames protest violence on 'thugs'

PARIS, Nov 17 (Reuters) - French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner blamed "thugs" and "bullies" on Sunday for the violence that hit demonstrations the previous day marking marked the first anniversary of the anti-government "yellow vest" protests.

"Yesterday, what we saw were few (legitimate) demonstrators but thugs, bullies and morons," Castaner told Europe 1 radio when asked about the violence in Paris on Saturday.

Demonstrators torched cars and pelted police with stones and bottles and police fired tear gas and water cannon during the rallies to mark a year since the birth of the anti-government yellow vest movement.

Across France, police arrested 264 people on Saturday, including 173 in Paris, Castaner said. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Frances Kerry)