Cars torched and shops raided as ‘gilets jaunes’ protest turns violent in Paris
Paris saw its worst unrest in a decade on Saturday when thousands of masked protesters fought running battles with police, torched cars, set fires to banks and houses, and burned makeshift barricades on the fringes of demonstrations against fuel tax.
Iran Press / Europe: Near the Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris’s best-known monuments, masked men burned barricades, set fire to buildings, smashed fences and torched luxury cars on some of the most expensive streets in the city as riot police fired teargas and water cannon.
Then, by early evening, rioters spread around Paris in a game of cat and mouse with police. Luxury department stores on Boulevard Haussmann were evacuated as cars were set alight and windows smashed. Near the Louvre, metal grilles were ripped down at the Tuileries Garden where fires were started. On the Place Vendôme, a hub of luxury jewellery shops and designer stores, rioters smashed windows and built barricades.
Anti-Macron graffiti was scrawled over the Arc de Triomphe near the tomb of the unknown soldier and protesters burst into the monument smashing up its lower floors before climbing on to the roof, according to a report by The Guardian.
More than 250 people were arrested and at least 100 injured – including one protester who was in a serious condition on Saturday night – after the violence erupted on the margins of anti-fuel tax demonstrations held by the citizens’ protest movement known as the gilets jaunes (yellow vests).
Meanwhile, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has insisted he will “never accept violence”. Macron, who was attending the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, said he would lead an emergency meeting of senior government ministers after returning to Paris on Sunday morning. He said: “No cause justifies that security forces are attacked, shops pillaged, public or private buildings set on fire, pedestrians or journalists threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is sullied.”
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He said that the peaceful demonstrators – whose name derives from their fluorescent high-visibility jackets and who have been demonstrating against taxes for two weeks – had legitimate concerns and he would hear their anger. But he said their demonstrations across the country on Saturday had been infiltrated by violent rioters who would be brought to trial in court. 211 / 204