Paris police detain hundreds of protesters

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Police in Paris have fired tear gas on protesters as a fourth weekend of anti-government protests turned violent.

The clashes came after up to 8,000 demonstrators gathered in the city centre. More than 500 people have been taken into custody.

At least 30 people have been injured in the capital, including three police officers.

The “yellow vest” movement opposed fuel tax rises but ministers say it has been hijacked by “ultra-violent” protesters.

Some 8,000 police and 12 armoured vehicles have been deployed in Paris, and nearly 90,000 countrywide.

Last week, hundreds of people were arrested and scores injured in violence in Paris – some of the worst street clashes in the French capital for decades.

What is happening this weekend?

There have been a number of confrontations. Bins were set alight on the Champs-Elysées and cars were torched on Boulevard de Courcelles, about 2km (1.2 miles) north.

Water cannon were deployed on a street east of the city centre.

TV pictures have shown what appear to be far-right groups setting up barricades. Armoured vehicles are being sent to deal with them, and French media say this is the first time they have been deployed in metropolitan Paris.

At the top end of the Champs-Elysées, near the Arc de Triomphe, there are sporadic upsurges of tension when riot police move out from their positions to retake ground and push back the more aggressive of the protesters.

Occasionally projectiles are thrown at the police, and some tear gas – but so far the disorder is contained, and nothing like on the scale of last Saturday.

The police are using different tactics – they’re much more mobile and are using snatch squads to seize identified troublemakers.

Many of those arrested will have been of people journeying to, rather than at, the scene of the protests – and found to be carrying projectiles.

As the day moves on, the government must be hoping that this comparatively restrained level of trouble remains the norm.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the numbers of arrests were greater than during the whole of the previous weekend.

“We will ensure that the rest of Saturday unfolds in the best possible conditions,” he said.

 

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