France fuel protests… Tear gas fired in clashes in Paris

Protesters have scaled the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, as clashes with riot police continued during a third weekend of “yellow vest” rallies.

 

Police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon on the Champs-Elysées, while masked protesters hurled projectiles and set buildings on fire.

 

At least 110 people were injured, including 17 members of the security forces, and 270 arrests were made.

 

Protests over fuel tax have grown into general anger at higher living costs.

President Emmanuel Macron said his fuel policies were needed to combat global warming.

 

One person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down an iron gate at the Tuileries garden near the Louvre museum, which fell on several people.

 

An assault rifle was also stolen from a police vehicle although it was unclear if it was loaded, AFP news agency quotes a police source as saying.

The French interior ministry said at least 75,000 people had turned out across France for the latest “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) rallies – so called because the protesters donned the high-vis vest required to be carried in every vehicle by law.

 

Nearly 190 fires were put out and six buildings were set ablaze, the interior

ministry said.

 

Responding to the day’s events from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mr Macron said the protests “had absolutely nothing to do with a peaceful demonstration of a legitimate unhappiness or discontent.”

 

He said those responsible did not want change, but instead intended to “wreak chaos”.

 

“No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is defiled,” he added.

 

Earlier this week, Mr Macron tried to strike a conciliatory tone, saying he was open to ideas about how the fuel tax could be applied.

 

But his speech does not appear to have gone far enough in assuaging people of the view that he is out of touch with ordinary people.

One building was set on fire on a major avenue near the Arc de Triomphe and protesters stole an assault rifle from a police vehicle in the centre of the city.

 

Department stores and metro stations were closed as a result of the violence. But protesters insisted the movement was peaceful.

“It’s a mess because we don’t have a leader,” Dan Lodi, 68, told AFP.

 

“You always have some idiots who come to fight, but they don’t represent us at all,” he said.

 

Among the peaceful demonstrators, who held up slogans such as “Macron, stop treating us like idiots”, there were those hiding their faces with masks and goggles.—BBC

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