Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

French police fire tear gas in Paris to halt angry protests

French police fire tear gas in Paris to halt angry protests

Up to 5,000 demonstrators have gathered in the city centre, and at least 272 people have been arrested.

They appeared to be outnumbered by police, with 8,000 officers deployed in the capital alone and 89,000 fanned out around the country.

Mr Macron's government warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds and become the most unsafe yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

Hundreds of protesters were milling around the Arc de Triomphe monument, which was defaced with anti-Macron graffiti last Saturday when rioters also torched dozens of cars and looted shops in the worst rioting in Paris since May 1968.

"At the national level, including Paris, we're at more than 700 detained with participation in the movement at 31,000 nationwide including 8,000 in Paris", he told France 2 television.

"We can not take the risk when we know the threat", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio, adding that far-right and far-left agitators were planning to hijack rallies by "yellow vest" protesters in Paris.

Mr Macron, who has not spoken in public since he condemned last Saturday's disturbances while at the G20 summit in Argentina, will address the nation early next week, his office said. He said none of the students were injured.

The students were detained by police in the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie, in unrest that has spread to dozens of schools during three weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

Rows of helmeted, thickly protected riot police blocked the demonstrators' passage down the Champs-Elysees avenue toward the heart of presidential power.

The "gilets jaunes" protesters, so-called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law, initially complained at a sharp increase in diesel taxes.

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Police also fired water cannons at protesters in one of the capital's main shopping districts, not far from the flagship buildings of France's most famed department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and near the Palais Garnier opera house.

In Lyon, authorities said there were 7000 people who participated in Saturday morning's march.

Heavily armed French police deployed tear gas and stun grenades against an army of Yellow Vests gathered in central Paris demanding Emmanuel Macron's head.

"These past three weeks have produced a monster that its creators no longer control", Interior Minister Castaner said on Friday, vowing "zero tolerance" toward those aiming to wreak further destruction. More than 250 people have been arrested. Subway stations in the centre of town were shut down.

Authorities said 575 people had been searched and briefly arrested and that 361 of them remained in custody after police found potential weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal petanque balls on them.

Jan Dijkgraaf, editor of a Dutch "resistance newspaper" is calling for peaceful protests in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. But who exactly makes up the "yellow vest" movement, and will the government be able to quell their anger after a month of increasingly fiery protests?

"People do not want to pay large sums of money.in order to maybe protect the environment", he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Macron seemingly has gone missing as his government tries to curb the chaos caused by his unpopular gas-tax plan.

Since the unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in violence related to the protests.

"The troublemakers can only be effective when they disguise themselves as yellow vests".

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