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Police charge English fans in Lille

Associated Press Associated Press 15/06/2016 By Eric Willemsen and John Leicester

French police used tear gas to disperse rampaging English soccer fans on the eve of England's Euro 16 game against Wales.

It is the fourth time England fans have been involved in violent incidents since the start of the tournament, though events in Lille did not reach the levels of last weekend in Marseille, where English fans were involved in three days of occasionally vicious fighting.

However riot police were still firing tear gas to disperse English supporters, many of them apparently drunk, late into the evening.

Police had to protect several thousand French soccer fans who had watched their team in an official fan zone set up for soccer lovers in each host city.

Riot police formed a shield to keep rampaging England fans away, eventually charging the English, spraying tear gas at them and forcing them to flee.

After a match between Russia and Slovakia ended in Lille earlier in the day, police chased large groups of English fans through the back streets around the city's main railway station.

A group of several hundred English fans drinking in local bars had been getting progressively rowdier and noisier, singing songs taunting Russia, when a loud explosion was heard and some bottles were thrown.

England plays Wales in the nearby city of Lens on Thursday.

French authorities in Lille said police made 16 arrests, including six Russians involved in violence last Saturday in Marseille.

Another five people were arrested for public drunkenness on a train from London that was stopped before it got to Lille and then allowed to continue.

The repercussions from last week's violence in Marseille involving English and Russian supporters continued, with Russia's Foreign Ministry summoning the French ambassador to protest the detention of Russian soccer fans in southern France.

The ministry said the decision by the Marseille prosecutor to hold the Russians for 48 hours pending investigation was "discriminatory."

It warned that "further fanning of anti-Russian sentiments over our team's participation in the European Championship could significantly strain the atmosphere of Russian-French ties."

The Russians were detained on Tuesday near Nice as they were heading by bus to Lille for Wednesday's match against Slovakia. Local authorities said police stopped the fans to see whether any hooligans were among them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said Moscow hoped UEFA would give equal treatment to all those responsible for fan violence.

UEFA has threatened to expel Russia and England from the tournament if their fans are involved in any more trouble.

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