The town of Vendargues, in southern France, has announced that people aged 13 or over will be banned from wearing "evil clown" costumes for Halloween.

Those wanting to dress as clowns for "fairs or other public festivities" from 31 October until 2 November, will need express permission from the authorities, officials said.

"It's about protecting children by preventing any ill-intentioned clowns from mixing with residents," a villager told AFP.

The move comes after a series of incidents where people have been attacked in France by people dressed as clowns, prompting several arrests.

In October, authorities arrested 14 youths dressed as clowns and carrying weapons in the Mediterranean port town of Agde.

The recent surge in attacks carried out by people wearing clown costumes is believed to have been prompted a by a series of Youtube prank videos.

The first few incidents related to the so-called 'evil clown' craze were reported in France earlier this month, after similar episodes in the US and UK.

In Montpellier a fake clown chased a man down a street and beat him with an iron bar. He was jailed or four months.

In another incident, authorities in eastern Paris detained a 14-year-old wearing a black robe and white make-up, who terrorised a local woman.

China costume clampdown

France is not the only country to have placed restrictions on Halloween costumes.

People in Beijing face arrest if they wear Halloween costumes on the tube, officials warned, Reuters reported. The ban was issued on grounds of security.

"Public transport police point out, please do not wear strange outfits in subway stations or in train carriages, which could easily cause a crowd to gather and create trouble," a state-run newspaper said.

"If the chaos is serious and causes a stampede or other public safety incident, the police will deal with it severely in accordance with the law."

The ban is believed to be part of a series of restrictions implemented by the government in the run-up to the meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which is to be held in China's capital in November.