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Finance minister slams France’s ‘yellow vest’ protests as disaster for economy

Finance minister slams France’s ‘yellow vest’ protests as disaster for economy

Police were mounted on horses and surrounded protesters with trained dogs.

About 8,000 police officers were on the ground in Paris - almost twice as many as last week.

The law enforcers fired tear gas on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue to disperse the agitators while thick plumes of black smoke are erupting from the city as several cars were torched in the latest breakout. Gregory Caray, owner of two furniture shops in the heart of Paris, said he was relieved to see that his shop had not been vandalised, but the protective wooden boards over its windows were plastered with graffiti.

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

By mid-morning, 343 people had been detained in Paris, according to a Paris police spokeswoman.

Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, which aimed to wean France off fossil fuels and uphold the Paris climate agreement, but that hasn't defused the anger.

The number of injured in Paris and nationwide was down Saturday from protest riots a week ago, and most of the capital remained untouched, but the violence in neighborhoods popular with tourists is tarnishing the country's image.

Police frisked people or searched bags every hundred meters or so throughout central Paris, and confiscated gas masks and protective goggles from Associated Press journalists. The national gendarme service posted a video on Twitter of police tackling a protester and confiscating his unsafe material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.

Macron, he added, would address the protests and their grievances next week. The iconic shopping center Galeries Lafayette also closed its doors.




Fierce winds and rain pummelled Paris overnight, complicating efforts to clean up the debris left after protesters sought any objects they could find to hurl at police or set on fire. (AFP photo)Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had congratulated police on the security operation, which mobilised 8,000 officers and saw armoured vehicles deployed in Paris for the first time.

"The troublemakers can only be effective when they disguise themselves as yellow vests". He vowed the government would address their concerns over rising living costs.

"We are here to tell (Macron) our discontent", said protester Myriam Diaz.

President Donald Trump continued mocking his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, as Paris was swept by violence and rioting for a second weekend.

Mr Macron will speak from the presidential Elysee Palace at 8pm (1900 GMT), an Elysee official said.

A bin is burning as school children demonstrate in Paris, Friday Dec.7, 2018.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner had warned of "ultra-violent" people joining the riots, just days after tax offices across the country were stormed and petrol-bombed - with one confrontation leading to a protester ramming his tractor into a local government building. "Some ultra-violent people want to take part".

Thierry Paul Valette, who helps coordinate yellow vest protesters who come to Paris, said the president must announce concrete measures to quell the fury.

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