Yellow Vest protests erupt in Paris as cops use water cannon

Yellow Vest protests erupt in Paris as cops use water cannon

Yellow Vest protests erupt in Paris as cops use water cannon

Protesters threw cobblestones at riot police through clouds of tear gas in front of Paris' Arc de Triumphed monument, which was ransacked at the peak of the protests in December.

The demonstrators also set fire to a bank situated on the ground floor of an apartment building, which was engulfed by flames. Fires were lit in the streets, with at least one vehicle set ablaze, and a bank was set alight.

Police tried to contain the demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons.

The police appeared overrun as protesters swarmed the Champs-Elysees, vandalising and later setting fire to Fouquet's brasserie, a favourite hangout of the rich and famous for the past century - as well as luxury handbag store Longchamp, a bank, another restaurant and several news stands.

Several hundred meters (yards) down the Champs Elysees, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told journalists the latest violence was unacceptable and all would be done to bring perpetrators to justice.

"As long as we don't get any results, we will continue (to protest) for all we asked for: pay rises, pensions, purchasing power, food waste".

Paris police told the AP that 192 people were arrested in Paris on Saturday and 60 others were injured, 18 of them police and firefighters.

Yellow Vest groups representing teachers, unemployed people and labour unions were among those that organised dozens of rallies and marches Saturday in the capital and around France.

As well as a surge in numbers on Saturday, there was a return to the levels of violence that characterised the early protests.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said up to 8,000 demonstrators were in Paris on Saturday, including 1,500 "ultraviolent ones that are there to smash things up".

Still, the numbers paled beside the 30,000 people who took part in a separate peaceful climate march in Paris at the same time, according to Castaner.

The Gilets Jaunes demonstrations were triggered last November over a fuel tax hike but quickly blew up into a broader movement against Macron and his pro-business reforms.

The protests began in response to a now cancelled fuel tax plan from France president Emmanuel Macron.

Paris saw some of the worst vandalising and looting in decades in December, but the nationwide protests have generally been getting smaller since then.

After the spike in violence, Macron offered a package of concessions worth more than 10 billion euros ($11 billion) aimed at boosting the incomes of the poorest workers and pensioners.

Macron's government ordered police to crack down on the protests in January, leading to complaints of police brutality after a series of injuries.

The rally was called to coincide with the end of two months of public debates called by President Emmanuel Macron to give voters a forum to air their grievances and propose policy changes.

Protest organizers had hoped to make a splash Saturday, which marks the 4-month anniversary of the yellow vest movement, which started November 17, and the end of the "Great Debate" that the French president organized to respond to protesters' concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

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