Economy

Hundreds of 'yellow vest' protesters are detained in Paris

Hundreds of 'yellow vest' protesters are detained in Paris

Crowds of yellow-vested protesters angry at President Emmanuel Macron and France's high taxes tried to converge on the presidential palace Saturday, some scuffling with police firing tear gas.

Police were also searching people throughout zones of central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that 89,000 security forces will be mobilized on Saturday, with 8,000 policemen deployed in Paris alone, as well as a dozen armored vehicles.

Initially, the Yellow Vest movement was sparked by a rise in fuel taxes but even after French President Emmanuel Macron repealed the tax, the protests have continued, with many calling for him to resign from office entirely.

The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum were among the sites that remained closed, fearing damage after rioting and looting last Saturday that saw 130 people injured.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he expected "only a few thousand people" to descend on Paris after the 8,000 protesters counted last weekend, "but among them are ultraviolent individuals".

One participant, Christophe Chalancon, told reporters the prime minister "listened to us".

Shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations were closed, while top-flight football matches and concerts have been cancelled. Out of the media spotlight, Macron met Friday night with riot police being deployed in Paris Saturday.

Demonstrators waving French flags, shouting the French anthem and wearing the movement's signature neon vests gathered before dawn Saturday near the Arc de Triomphe, then tried to march down the Champs-Elysees Avenue toward the presidential palace.

The developments followed the French government stating that it was abandoning the planned fuel tax hike which triggered the demonstrations.

The climbdown over the fuel tax - meant to help France move to a greener economy - marks a major shift for Mr Macron, who has previously vowed not to be swayed, like previous presidents, by large street protests.

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Exceptional security measures are in place, aimed at preventing a repeat of last week's rioting.

Hundreds of protesters were milling around the Arc de Triomphe monument, which was defaced with graffiti last Saturday, when rioters also torched cars and looted shops.

Some could be held in the city centre on what is a major Christmas shopping weekend.

But many "yellow vests" have urged fresh protests this weekend, claiming a series of of government concessions do not go far enough. On Friday, police arrested two other men in Montauban after finding a cache of 28 Molotov cocktails and three improvised explosive devices.

A police spokeswoman told reporters there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees boulevard and authorities said 211 people had been arrested after police found weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal petanque balls on them.

The movement has no clear leaders, and past protests have attracted extremists who hurled projectiles at police.

People wearing Yellow Vests clash with police forces.

But the yellow vests, some of whom who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more. "Some ultra-violent people want to take part".

That decision is deeply unpopular with protesters and together with a series of comments, viewed as insensitive to ordinary workers, has led critics to dub Mr Macron a "president of the rich".

French high school students take to the streets.

Four people have been killed in accidents since the unrest began on November 17.