Paris in lockdown as France braces for new anti-Macron riots

Paris in lockdown as France braces for new anti-Macron riots

French riot police fired tear gas and water cannon in Paris on Saturday, trying to stop thousands of yellow-vested protesters from converging on the presidential palace to express their anger at high taxes and French President Emmanuel Macron.

A source close to the operation told AFP that at least 34 people were arrested for carrying masks, hammers, slingshots and rocks that could be used to attack police.

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.

Mr Macron's government warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds and become the most risky yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

This is now the fourth weekend of protests, with last week seeing hundreds of people arrested and many injured on the streets.

His morning tweet came in the middle of UN climate talks in Poland, where almost 200 nations have gathered to agree on a universal rulebook to make good on the promises they signed up to in the 2015 Paris climate deal. Offshoot movements have emerged elsewhere, and yellow-vest protests were planned Saturday in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Mr Macron said his motivation for the increase was environmental, but protesters accused him of being out of touch.

Dozens of streets in central Paris were closed to traffic, while the Eiffel Tower and world-famous museums such as the Musee d'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre were closed. He said no students were injured. Out of the media spotlight, Macron met Friday night with riot police being deployed in Paris Saturday.

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

Some remain focused on lowering fuel taxes and other financial burdens, saying low-income families in particular are paying the price for Macron's push to reform and revive the French economy.

People in other regions have also risen up in protest.

A protester wearing a yellow vest attends a demonstration during a national day of protest by the

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

They threw paving stones, fireworks, flares and other objects at police.

It is feared that the viral videos could further inflame the "yellow vest" protests, which have led to the worst rioting Paris has seen in decades.

"We have prepared a robust response", Interior Minister Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told online news site Brut on Saturday.

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

In late 2017, the French government approved a decision to raise the direct tax on diesel fuel, the most popular type in the country.

By 8.40 am (0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people. Hundreds of protesters, including the movement's leader, were detained during the demonstrations. "I ask the yellow vests that want to bring about a peaceful message to not go with the violent people". Some yellow vests have joined in.

"People do not want to pay large sums of order to maybe protect the environment", he tweeted.

The protests, named after the high-visibility safety vests French motorists are required to keep in their cars, erupted in November over the squeeze on household budgets caused by fuel taxes.

The protesters began blocking roads, fuel depots and shopping centres around France on November 17 over soaring petrol prices that have hit people in the provinces who get around by auto.

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