Violent protests erupt in Paris

Violent protests erupt in Paris

FRENCH president Emmanuel Macron dashed back from the G20 summit in Argentina to hold an emergency meeting over violent clashes spreading across France. At least 110 people were injured.

Despite the unrest that has accompanied the protests, the "yellow vests" have widespread public support, even in the cities.

For more than two weeks, the "yellow vests" have blocked roads across France in a spontaneous, popular rebellion against diesel tax hikes and the high cost of living.

The situation in Paris contrasted Saturday with protests in other French regions, where demonstrations and road blockades were largely peaceful. Violent groups from the far right and far left as well as anarchists infiltrated Saturday's protests, the authorities said. France's failure to quell the anger has led to copycat yellow jacket movements in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

A total of 133 had been injured, including 23 members of security forces who battled rioters for most of the day in some of the most famous parts of the capital.

Graffiti was also sprayed on many stores and buildings.

An assault rifle was stolen from a police vehicle, a source told AFP, though it was unclear if it was loaded.

One person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down one of the huge iron gates of the Tuileries garden by the Louvre, crushing several people.

"I will always respect debate and I will always listen to the opposition but I will never accept violence", Macron said.

The president's office issued a statement after an emergency meeting was held at the presidential palace Sunday to discuss the protests a day earlier in which activists wearing yellow jackets trashed the streets of Paris.

"(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger" and "no cause justifies" attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings, Macron said in Buenos Aires. It represented the worst violence the centre of the French capital has seen since 1968 and the biggest challenge yet to Mr Macron's 18-month-old presidency.

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There was no confirmation that the prince might also visit Algeria's neighbour Morocco, despite speculation in the local press. The Saudi prince is unlikely to face protests over the murder like he did in Tunisia, as demonstrations are banned in Algiers.

France's interior ministry said about 136,000 people participated in the protest nationwide last weekend, suggesting the demonstrations themselves may be dying down.

Some 378 of those arrested have been put in police custody, including those who tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-coloured graffiti.

Avenues leading to the Arc de Triomphe are pictured from the top of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. Macron has over three years left of his five-year mandate and a strong majority in Parliament, albeit with signs of simmering unease on the backbenches over his response to the protests.

Christophe Castaner, the country's interior minister, said 1,500 "agitators" were among the demonstrators.

He did not rule out imposing a state of emergency - a demand made by the police union Alliance - declaring: "Nothing is taboo for me. I am prepared to examine everything".

"We have said that we won't change course". The Champs Elysees will be closed to traffic and pedestrians will be funnelled through checkpoints.

The first week of protests saw an estimated 244,000 protesters demonstrate around the whole of France.

Plans for an earlier meeting between the prime minister and representatives of the movement collapsed last week after a request to broadcast the talks live was rejected.

While several dozen protesters were allowed to pass after an ID check and search, many others, often wearing gas masks or ski goggles, remained behind and fought with police, who responded with rounds of tear gas.

He also vowed to slow the rate of increase in fuel taxes if global oil prices rise too rapidly but only after a tax rise due in January.

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