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Riot police clash with Paris protesters

02 December 2018

Groups of masked protesters battled police through clouds of tear gas near Paris' Champs Elysees Saturday as thousands took part in a third weekend of "yellow vest" demonstrations, which have morphed from anger over fuel taxes into a broader anti-government movement.

Demonstrators will return to the Champs-Elysees tomorrow to press their demands, which include a moratorium on fuel tax increases, an increase in the minimum wage and a national housing insulation plan.

Dramatic protests have been continuing for hours in the French capital. This prompted protesters to respond by throwing large rocks at officers.

At least 65 people have been injured, including 11 members of the security forces. Another 5,000 will be deployed across France for other yellow vest protests.

He said "some determined, equipped individuals" gathered Saturday morning to "provoke" clashes with police that led to at least 10 officers being injured.

Others voiced indignation at graffiti sprayed on the Arc de Triomphe, a monument to French war dead, including phrases like "Macron resign" and "the yellow vests triumph".

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to push back angry demonstrators.

French Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said that 3,000 "troublemakers" were around the Champs-Elysees avenue, outside a perimeter secured by police. Over 20 downtown Paris metro stations were closed for security reasons and police ordered stores in nearby neighborhoods to close early Saturday evening.

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.

Demonstrators stand in front of a burning car during a protest of Yellow vests
At least one car was overturned and set on fire

Along the opulent Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe, home to embassies and luxury residences, protesters ripped out benches to form a blockade, one person waving a skull and bones pirate flag.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday denounced protesters against him as chaos-seekers, as the growing demonstrations first triggered by planned fuel price hikes turned violent.

Castaner had already said on Thursday that "far left and far right activists" were preparing for fresh clashes with the police.

"With all these tax hikes, there's not much left for eating at the end of the month", Philippe, a high school cook in the Essonne region outside Paris, said near the Champs Elysees on Saturday.

Access to the Champs-Elysee avenue was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections.

"It's hard to reach the end of the month. People work and pay a lot of taxes and we are fed up", said Rabah Mendez, a protester who came from a southern suburb to march peacefully in Paris.

"Paris resident Hedwige Lebrun said "the purchasing power is severely diminishing every day".

The protests first sprouted up in rural France among citizens who say higher fuel taxes are an urban luxury that they can not afford. "The state is asking us to tighten our belts, but they, on the contrary, live totally above all standards with our money".

The protests - which began two weeks ago - have widened from to cover the general discontent many people have with Mr Macron, who they accuse of being out of touch with working-class people.

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Riot police clash with Paris protesters

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