Published: Mon, December 03, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Riot debris covers Paris streets; 133 injured, 412 arrested

Riot debris covers Paris streets; 133 injured, 412 arrested

Paris police say 133 people have been injured and 412 have been arrested during France's worst urban riot in years.

Police said at least 80 people, including 16 police officers, were injured in violent protests in the French capital, and 183 others were arrested.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said 378 people remained in police custody as of Sunday evening.

President Emmanuel Macron said scenes of "chaos" aren't representative of the "legitimate anger" roiling France, but refused to answer questions over his response to protests that have left swaths of Paris with burned cars, exploded shop windows and graffiti tags on the Arc de Triomphe.

Macron, who was meeting with his prime minister and interior and environment ministers, has vowed that those responsible for the violence and the damages will pay for their actions.

Police have fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons in battles with protesters around the Arc de Triomphe near the Champs-Elysees avenue.

Griveaux said that between 1,000 and 1,500 people joined Saturday's demonstrations "only to fight with the police, to break and loot". "We are certain of that", he told Europe 1 radio.

A demonstrator watches a burning auto near the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration on Dec.1, 2018 in Paris.

Although police managed to clear the square around the Arc de Triomphe toward midday, cat-and-mouse skirmishes continued as protesters spread out to nearby streets and neighbourhoods.

Demonstrators claim that they've finally had their fill of Macron's overbearing nanny state, and that a recently introduced package of taxes and regulations meant to curb fossil fuel consumption by dramatically increasing the price of gasoline were the last straw in their dissatisfaction with Macron's government.

Macron and key ministers were to meet later on Sunday to consider declaring an emergency to prevent a recurrence of the riots.

The protests began on November 17, when hundreds of thousands of people across France turned out to protest fuel taxes that Macron imposed as part of a plan to reduce energy consumption and tackle climate change.

Under heavy security, the French leader spoke with police and firefighters on one of the avenues near the Champs Elysees boulevard, with some bystanders cheering but more jeering him, including yellow-jacketed protesters chanting, "Macron, resign!".

There's not much that French authorities could do to relieve people's worries and defuse tensions, he said, as Paris "has to obey the orders from the European Commission".

Riot police were overwhelmed as protesters ran amok in Paris's wealthiest neighbourhoods last Saturday (Dec 1), torching dozens of cars, looting boutiques and smashing up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968.

Macron, who is at the G20 leaders summit in Argentina, on Tuesday said he understood the anger of voters outside France's big cities over the squeeze fuel prices have put on households.

The "gilets jaunes" protesters, so-called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law, are complaining at a sharp increase in diesel taxes.

Almost 190 fires were put out and six buildings were set alight, the interior ministry said.

"I am totally behind the "Gilets Jaunes"," said George DuPont, a resident in Paris' upscale 16th arrondissement.

Protesters broke in to the entrance of the Arc de Triomphe, gaining access to the roof.

The protest movement has no identifiable leadership and has gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in between.

Interior Minister Castaner attributed the violence to "specialists in destruction".

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