Wednesday, 16 Jan 2019
World

Latest news: French riot police charge protesters in Paris

PARIS – Latest news on anti-government protests in France and neighboring countries (local time):

5:35 p.m.

Dozens of French riot police backed by an armored vehicle charge demonstrators on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, firing tear gas under the glittering lights of one of the world's most elegant avenues.

Protesters in yellow jackets wore a huge banner calling on President Emmanuel Macron to resign and France holding urgent elections.

Protesters appeared to flare when police responded with tear gas. The confrontation took place after a day of tension in Paris on Saturday and the unprecedented efforts of the police to prevent further violence.

The movement of the yellow vest began as a protest against an increase in the fuel tax, but it has become an amorphous protest movement that the French authorities are struggling to contain.

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4:35 p.m.

The police chief of Imperia, a coastal town in northwestern Italy located on the road leading to France, said that French demonstrators with yellow waistcoats had blocked the border with the United States. Italy near the city of Ventimiglia.

The Italian news agency ANSA quoted police chief Cesare Capocasa as saying that the demonstration caused a six-kilometer (Saturday) traffic disruption in both directions.

He was quoted as saying: "We are on the scene to try to manage the situation in a balanced way".

Protesters wearing yellow jackets are angry at high taxes in France and against French President Emmanuel Macron.

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4:10 p.m.

A march for the environment is taking place peacefully in Paris and in other French cities, in parallel with the violent "yellow vest" demonstrations that have put a large part of the city under lock and key.

The "Climate March" was a more diverse crowd, with many more women and older people and a handful of children. The demonstrations of the "yellow vest" are predominantly male, with only a few women among the hundreds of men breaking in the streets.

A handful of people dressed in yellow vests had joined the silent march in the middle of the afternoon. A panel said "No climate justice without fiscal and social justice".

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3:55 p.m.

Clashes erupted between demonstrators "yellow vest" and the police in the district of the port of Marseille, in the south of France.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the fighting that erupted at noon in the port, one of the city's main sights.

We did not know immediately if anyone was injured.

The demonstrations of the "yellow vest" began as a revolt against an increase in the tax on gasoline, but have since grown to encompass a large number of grievances against the standard of living and President Emmanuel Macron.

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1:55 p.m.

Belgian police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters wearing yellow vests and throwing stones near government and parliament offices.

Protesters broke road signs and traffic lights near a police barrier blocking access to the office of Prime Minister Charles Michel, while they chanted slogans inviting him to resign.

They threw cobblestones, fireworks, flares and other objects on the police.

Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said about 400 protesters were gathered in the area.

A hundred people were arrested, many for possession of dangerous objects, such as fireworks or clothing that could serve as protection during clashes with the police.

In the Netherlands, a hundred protesters rallied during a peaceful demonstration in front of the Dutch parliament in The Hague. At least two protesters were arrested by police in central Amsterdam.

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1:45 p.m.

Paris police shoot water cannons at protesters in the yellow jacket who launch flares and light fires in one of the main shopping areas of the French capital.

Scattered clashes continue around the city as protesters seek to reach the presidential palace and demand the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron. While the situation is tense, the police seem to control it more than a week ago, when riots and looting overwhelmed the Paris security forces.

The last flash point is not far from the flagship buildings of the largest French stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and close to the Palais Garnier opera house. Protesters uprooted trees on one of the main boulevards of the neighborhood and set them on fire, while others threw flares and other projectiles at rows of riot police.

Like many neighborhoods in Paris, the neighborhood is largely locked and many shops are closed for fear of violence.

Police estimate the number of protesters wearing a yellow vest in Paris to be around 8,000 on Saturday, down from last week.

Meanwhile, the government has deployed 8,000 policemen in the city, as part of exceptional security measures to prevent the repetition of riots last week, which injured 130 people and struck a blow to the image of France .

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12:50

Belgian police are struggling with protesters in the yellow jacket demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel as hundreds of protesters try to enter the European district of Brussels.

Police used a pepper spray on a small group of men who threw placards, bottles and other items while they were trying to break through a barricade near the European Parliament.

Walking behind a banner bearing the inscription "Social winter arrives," protesters chant "French President Emmanuel Macron, Michel resigns.

The rallies, which began in different parts of the city and converged on the European quarter, disrupted road and rail traffic.

Dozens of people were searched at the stations.

Police warned people to stay away from the area.

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11:55

The police are seizing journalist protection equipment and preventing some provincial protesters from boarding a train bound for Paris, as part of unusually strict security measures to prevent a repeat of last week's riots.

A group of four protesters who arrived in Paris from Normandy on Saturday told the Associated Press that they had seen people wearing yellow vests being sent back to train stations all along their journey. They said the other protesters trying to reach Paris from Toulouse, in the south of France, had reported the same problems.

A spokesman for the national police said that officers stationed at country stations are under the command to check all passengers and refuse any transport equipment that could be used to "cause damage to people or property ".

Three Associated Press reporters were seized with gas masks and goggles by police while in possession of press cards issued by the government. The equipment allows journalists to cover violence between police and protesters when tear gas is fired.

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11h

Paris police fired tear gas at a group of yellow-jacketed protesters who were trying to march on the French presidential palace and repulsed them with shields.

Crowds of protesters first tried to descend the Avenue des Champs-Elysees towards the Elysee Palace, but were prevented by rows of police officers. A group of a few hundred people then took high street and tried to cross a police barrier. Police responded with tear gas.

Most of the protesters are still peaceful and nothing has yet shown the riot and looting that marked a similar demonstration last Saturday and raised fears of a resurgence of violence this week.

Crowds also gathered around the city around the Place de la Bastille.

The authorities have already arrested 343 people Saturday as part of exceptional security measures and filtering.

Police search people in the center of Paris and confiscate goggles and gas masks to journalists who use them to protect themselves from tear gas while covering demonstrations.

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9:25

A crowd of demonstrators "yellow vests" parade Avenue des Champs-Elysees in the center of Paris surrounded by exceptional police safety and fears of further violence.

Hundreds of people gathered early Saturday around the Arc de Triomphe, which had been damaged during a riot a week ago. They then began to walk quietly on the avenue, lined with upscale shops normally busy before the Christmas holidays, but closed on Saturday, fearing further looting or other damage.

A spokesman for the Paris police said more than 170 people had been arrested on Saturday on suspicion of planning violence, although most were released later.

The government of President Emmanuel Macron deploys 89,000 security forces in the country during Saturday's protests against his reforms.

– By Angela Charlton

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8:40

The protest movement French yellow vest crosses the borders, with events planned in neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands.

Neither country has proposed an increase in the fuel tax – the catalyst for massive and destructive demonstrations in France in recent weeks.

Hundreds of police are mobilized Saturday in Brussels. Protesters in yellow uniforms clashed last week and burned two police vehicles. More than 70 people were arrested.

Some rallies take place outside the main institutions of the European Union, which are closed on Saturdays. Some could take place in the city center, which is an important Christmas shopping weekend.

Jan Dijkgraaf, editor of a Dutch "resistance newspaper", calls for peaceful demonstrations in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

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7:30

Parisian monuments and shopping centers are closed and tens of thousands of police officers are settling in the country, fearing a worsening of violence during a new wave of anti-government protests.

The government of President Emmanuel Macron has warned that demonstrations "Saturday yellow vest" in Paris would be diverted by "radicalized and rebel" crowds and become the most dangerous after three weeks of demonstrations.

The authorities are deploying anti-barricade armored vehicles and 8,000 police officers in the capital alone, among the 89,000 members of the security forces deployed in France.

The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are closed, as are hundreds of shops and businesses, fearing damage after riots last Saturday, which killed 130 people and caused the worst urban unrest in Paris for decades .

The protesters are angry at Macron and the high taxes, among other problems.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, disseminated, rewritten or redistributed.

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