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French yellow vests clash with police in Paris

French yellow vests clash with police in Paris

The turnout was seen as a test for the "yellow-vest" movement, which began in November over fuel tax hikes and quickly ballooned into an anti-government rebellion but has struggled lately to mobilise large numbers of protesters.

The flames pouring out of the posh eatery Fouquet's on the Champs-Elysées marked one of the most powerful images on a day of unusual unrest in the French capital.

Demonstrators also targeted symbols of the luxury industry, as shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste were smashed up and pillaged, and mannequins thrown out of the broken windows.

Cafe tables and seats also ended up on the fire and the famous Fouquet's brasserie - favourite locale of the rich and famous, including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy who controversially used it to celebrate his 2007 election - was also sacked in an orgy of anti-capitalist destruction.

"Like the vast majority of French people, I feel very angry today", tweeted French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who visited the scene.

The police on Saturday used tear gas and water cannon to repel protesters who gathered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe war memorial, which was sacked by protesters on December 1 in scenes that drew global condemnation.

Since then, repeated rioting by the protesters and economic concessions by Macron have diminished public support for the yellow vest cause. Rescuers had to evacuate people on the remaining six floors of the building.

Black-clad demonstrators encircled the square surrounding the arch, pelting the police with stones.

"There are a number of people who have come just to smash things", Castaner said, estimating that some 1,500 "ultra violent" activists had infiltrated the crowd of "between 7,000 and 8,000".

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How did the violence start? They set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores and clashed with police firing tear gas and water cannon.

That was up from about 3,000 protesters in Paris last weekend.

A separate, peaceful march against climate change through central Paris drew as many 36,000 people, the interior ministry estimated.

A bank has been set ablaze as French yellow vest protesters clash with police in Paris and firefighters had to rescue a mother and her child as the fire threatened to engulf their floor. The bank offices were gutted and 11 people were slightly injured, including two police officers.

French police fired tear gas and arrested dozens on Saturday in clashes with protesters as the yellow vest movement sought to inject new impetus into its four-month old revolt against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms.

A restaurant on fire during clashes between riot police and "gilets jaunes" on the Champs-Elysees, Paris on 16 March.

Yellow vest protests also took place several other French cities. The police responded with teargas and water cannon.

Yellow Jackets threw smoke bombs and other objects at police, Fox News reported.

The violence comes after a two-month national debate that Macron organized to respond to protesters' concerns about sinking living standards, high unemployment, stagnant wages and general income inequality. Several protesters smiled as they posed for a photo in front of one the charred remains of the kiosks.


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