French authorities warned another wave of "great violence" and rioting could be unleashed in Paris this weekend by a hard core of 'yellow vest' protesters, as senior ministers sought to defuse public anger with conciliatory languages on taxes.
Despite capitulating this week over plans for higher fuel taxes that inspired the nationwide revolt, President Emmanuel Macron has struggled to quell the anger that led to the worst street unrest in central Paris since 1968.
Rioters torched cars, vandalised cafes, looted shops and sprayed anti-Macron graffiti across some of Paris's most affluent districts, even defacing the Arc de Triomphe. Scores of people were hurt and hundreds arrested in battles with police.
An official in Macron's office said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital tomorrow "to vandalise and to kill."
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 65,000 security personnel would be deployed across the country on that day to keep the peace.
In a bid to defuse the three-week crisis, Philippe had told parliament late on Wednesday that he was scrapping the fuel-tax increases planned for 2019, having announced a six-month suspension the day before. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a conference he was prepared to bring forward tax cutting plans and that he wanted workers' bonuses to be tax-free.
The threat of more violence poses a security nightmare for the authorities, who make a distinction between peaceful 'yellow vest' protesters and violent groups, anarchists and looters from the deprived suburbs who they say have infiltrated the movement.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer urged people to stay at home during the coming weekend. Security sources said the government was considering using troops currently deployed on anti-terrorism patrols to protect public buildings.