FLASH: French yellow vest protesters have clashed with riot police near the Arc de Triomphe on the 18th weekend running of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.
Protesters threw smoke bombs and other objects at officers, and started pounding on the windows of a police van. Riot police then retreated, as did a water cannon, with protesters kicking the side of the large truck.
Protesters threw cobblestones at riot police through clouds of tear gas in front of Paris’ Arc de Triumphed monument, which was ransacked at the peak of the protests in December.
Bonfires were started in nearby streets, with at least one car in flames.
Police also used water cannons and had arrested more than 30 protesters by late morning as tensions flared at the top of Paris’ upmarket Champs Elysees avenue, where the windows of a high-end restaurant were smashed.
Police have announced over 100 arrests Saturday, as protesters try to breathe new life into their movement against President Macron, 41 anni, and his policies.
The yellow vest groups organized dozens of rallies and marches Saturday in the capital and around the country.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said thugs looking for trouble had infiltrated the demonstrations and gave the order to respond to “unacceptable attacks with the greatest firmness”.
“Let there be no doubt: they are looking for violence and are there to sow chaos in Paris,” Minister MiCastaner said in a Tweet.
Protesters promised to draw bigger numbers to mark the 4th month since the movement erupted in mid November, over since-scrapped fuel tax hikes and the high cost of living.
President Macron, former investment banker, had launched a series of national debates which are aimed at determining what polices people want the government to focus on.
Saturday’s protests coincide with the end of the debates.
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