Riot police clash with Paris protesters


Protesters have scaled the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, as clashes with riot police continue during a third weekend of “yellow vest” rallies.

Police fired tear gas, stun grenades and a water cannon on the Champs-Elysées, while masked protesters hurled projectiles and set buildings on fire.

What began as protests over President Macron’s fuel tax has transformed into general anger at high living costs.

Mr Macron says his fuel policies are needed to combat global warming.

At least 80 people have been injured, including 14 members of the security forces.

The French Interior Ministry said at least 75,000 people turned out across France for the latest “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) rallies – so called because the protesters donned the yellow vest required to be carried in every vehicle by law.

Earlier this week, Mr Macron tried to strike a conciliatory tone, saying he was open to ideas about how the fuel tax could be applied.

But his speech does not appear to have gone far enough in assuaging people of the view that he is out of touch with ordinary people.

Dramatic protests have been continuing for hours in French capital.

An eyewitness told the Reuters news agency that firemen were responding to a fire at a building near the Champs-Elysées. Another building was set on fire on a major avenue near the Arc de Triomphe and protesters stole an assault rifle from a police vehicle in the centre of the city.

Department stores and metro stations were closed as a result of the violence. But protesters insisted the movement was peaceful.

“It’s a mess because we don’t have a leader,” Dan Lodi, a 68-year-old pensioner, told the AFP news agency.

“You always have some idiots who come to fight, but they don’t represent us at all,” he said.

Among the peaceful demonstrators, who held up slogans such as “Macron, stop treating us like idiots”, there were those hiding their faces with masks and goggles.

Police fired tear gas, a water cannon and stun grenades to disperse those who were trying to tear down the barricades.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who visited the scene, tweeted that there were “1,500 agitators outside the security perimeter who came to fight”.

He called the protests “an insult to the republic”.