Protests rock France again | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:38 AM, December 09, 2018

Protests rock France again

Cops clash with 'Yellow Vest' protesters; more than 700 arrested

Armoured vehicles rolled through central Paris yesterday as riot police clashed with "yellow vest" demonstrators, who set fire to barricades and hurled rocks in the latest demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

Shouts of "Macron, resign" mingled with tear gas on the Champs-Elysees avenue, which was the scene of the worst rioting in Paris in decades last week.

Thick plumes of black smoke from fires could be seen rising high into the sky over the city.

The demonstrators began blockading roads over rising fuel taxes on November 17 but their list of demands have since grown, with many calling for the resignation of Macron, whom they accuse of favouring the rich.

In the Grands Boulevards shopping district, masked protesters threw rocks at riot police and set fire to a barricade hastily assembled from stolen dustbins and Christmas trees.

Coordinated "yellow vest" protests were taking place across the country yesterday, including on numerous motorways, causing havoc on the national road network.

Deputy interior minister Laurent Nunez said an estimated 31,000 people were taking part in protests nationwide, including 8,000 in Paris -- similar numbers to last week.

Around 700 people had been detained, most of them in Paris.

Police carried out checks on people arriving at the capital's train stations, confiscating items that could be used as projectiles as well as surgical masks and goggles used to protect against the effects of tear gas. Some of those arrested were carrying hammers, slingshots and rocks.

Parts of the city centre were on effective lockdown, with shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations closed. Top-flight football matches and concerts were cancelled.

Last weekend's violence, which saw some 200 cars torched and the Arc de Triomphe vandalised, shook France and plunged Macron's government into its deepest crisis so far.

Macron this week gave in to some of the protesters' demands for measures to help the poor and struggling middle classes, including scrapping a planned increase in fuel taxes and freezing electricity and gas prices in 2019.

But the "yellow vests", some of whom who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more. Protests at dozens of schools over university reforms, and a call by farmers for demonstrations next week, have added to a sense of general revolt.

The hardline CGT union, hoping to capitalise on the movement, has called for rail and metro strikes next Friday to demand immediate wage and pension increases.

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