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Paris police fire tear gas at protesters

December 8th, 2018 | Tags:
Protesters surged forward before tear gas was fired. Photo: BBC News
Protesters were able to march some distance along the Champs-Elysées. Photo: BBC News
Protesters were able to march some distance along the Champs-Elysées. Photo: BBC News
CHAMPS-ELYSÉES, Paris, France - Police in Paris have fired tear gas on protesters as a fourth weekend of anti-government protests turned violent.

Up to 5,000 people have gathered in the city centre, and at least 272 are in custody, but numbers are down on previous weekends.

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

The "yellow vest" movement opposed fuel tax rises but ministers say it's been hijacked by "ultra-violent" protesters.

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?

About 5,000 people gathered on the Champs-Elysées and marched a short distance to a police cordon, where they stopped.

There have been a few confrontations, with police firing tear gas at protesters in a side street as tensions flared.

Different police tactics

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.

There are occasional projectiles being 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.

According to the authorities, there have already been nearly 500 arrests. Many of those 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.

Police have stopped more than 500 people in Paris, of whom at least 272 are in custody.

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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