Clashes erupt as France’s ‘yel­low vests’ stage fresh protests

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

PARIS: Pro­test­ers skir­mished with po­lice in Paris and other cities on Satur­day as thou­sands turned out for new ral­lies against French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, with dozens ar­rested as of­fi­cials vowed a crack­down on the vi­o­lence that has marred the demon­stra­tions since Novem­ber.

The “yel­low vest” marches be­gan calmly amid a heavy po­lice de­ploy­ment of some 80,000 of­fi­cers na­tion­wide, with pro­test­ers singing the “Mar­seil­laise” na­tional an­them and hold­ing signs in­clud­ing “In­se­cu­rity is not a job”.

But scores of pro­test­ers later clashed with riot po­lice af­ter ar­riv­ing at the Arc de Tri­om­phe in Paris, prompt­ing vol­leys of tear gas and wa­ter can­non as se­cu­rity forces pre­vented them from reach­ing the Champs-El­y­sees.

Nearly 60 peo­ple had been ar­rested in the cap­i­tal, po­lice said, along­side dozens more else­where in­clud­ing the cen­tral city of Bourges, the site of an­other ma­jor rally.

The in­te­rior min­istry said there were 32,000 pro­test­ers na­tion­wide as of 2pm (1300 GMT), in­clud­ing 8,000 in Paris.

That was above the 26,000 counted at the same time last week. Many of the cen­tral dis­tricts of the cap­i­tal were on lock­down for the ninth straight Satur­day of protests, which have picked up steam af­ter a hol­i­day lull. Dozens of banks, jew­ellery stores and other shops were boarded up on the Champs-El­y­sees and else­where across the city, which have taken a heavy toll on busi­nesses.

“We’ve come to Paris to make our­selves heard, and we wanted to see for our­selves at least once what’s go­ing on here,” said Pa­trick, 37, who said he had trav­elled from the Savoie re­gion. A few hun­dred pro­test­ers also clashed with po­lice in the his­toric cen­tre of Bourges, where nearly 5,000 peo­ple gath­ered as or­gan­is­ers sought to draw more par­tic­i­pants from ar­eas far from Paris.

Signs said “Macron re­sign!” and “France is an­gry,” while po­lice said 18 peo­ple had been de­tained.

In the well-heeled race­hors­ing town of Chan­tilly just north of Paris, 1,000 or so pro­test­ers marched through the cen­tre be­fore de­scend­ing on the hip­po­drome where they de­layed the start of a race, lo­cal me­dia said.

Spo­radic skir­mishes were also re­ported in the south­ern town of Nimes in­volv­ing some 1,000 pro­test­ers. The demon­stra­tions also spilt over the bor­der into eastern Bel­gium late on Fri­day, where one of around 25 pro­test­ers man­ning a block­ade died af­ter be­ing hit by a truck, Bel­gian me­dia re­ported.

Full story @ time­so­fo­man.com/world

-AFP - AFP file photo

IN FLAMES: Scores of ‘yel­low vest’ pro­test­ers clashed with riot po­lice af­ter ar­riv­ing at the Arc de Tri­om­phe in Paris, prompt­ing vol­leys of tear gas and wa­ter can­non as se­cu­rity forces pre­vented them from reach­ing the Champs-El­y­sees.

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