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Yellow vests look to capitalize on protest momentum

Yellow vests look to capitalize on protest momentum

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner went to Twitter to express his "disgust" as protesters set alight an anti-terror military auto.

Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, on February 9, 2019.

A man was being held for questioning over the blaze, Paris prosecutors said. The rallies turned violent, with clashes erupting and police resorting to tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

"When the cops went to disperse people, he got hit by a flash-ball grenade in the calf", he added.

Police said the injured protester lost four fingers as police swooped in to stop protesters from breaching the parliament's exterior.

"We're not children, we're adults", said Hugues Salone, a computer engineer from Paris, among the chanting and placard-waving protesters. This was the 11th time he had marched with the movement, he said.

"It's all very good, the great debate, but we want something concrete: fewer taxes, more purchasing power".

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Macron's popularity has nosedived since the protests kicked off past year in response to a planned fuel tax.

In the south of France police blocked yellow vest leader Maxime Nicolle from crossing into Italy to join forces with Italian demonstrators.

Police said 31 protesters were arrested on Saturday but the AP reports France's Interior Ministry said this week's protest was significantly smaller than last week's.

Thousands more protesters turned out in the French Mediterranean ports of Marseille and Montpellier and also in Bordeaux and Toulouse in the southwest - strongholds of the movements - and in several cities in the north and west of France.

The yellow vest protests began in mid-November, spurred by anger over high gas prices in rural areas where people depend on their cars because of no access to public transportation.

But a YouGov poll of 1,037 people issued on Thursday suggested that almost two out of three people in France (64 per cent) still support the movement.

Politicians came together to condemn the arson attack on the home of Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Mr Macron, in Motreff, Brittany.