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France holds 700 protesters, 31,000 join ‘yellow vest’

Riot police fire tear-gas canisters at yellow-vested protesters gathered on the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris, on Dec 8. (AP)

An estimated 31,000 people joined “yellow vest” anti- government protests across France on Saturday, deputy interior minister Laurent Nunez said, adding that 700 people had been detained. “At the national level, including Paris, we’re at more than 700 detained with participation in the movement at 31,000 nationwide including 8,000 in Paris,” he told France 2 television.

French riot police fired tear-gas and clashed with “yellow vest” protesters in central Paris on Saturday during the latest in a wave of demonstrations against the high cost of living that have shaken President Emmanuel Macron’s authority.

Authorities said 575 people had been searched and briefl y arrested and 361 people of them remained in custody after police found potential weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal petanque balls on them. Hundreds of protesters were milling around the Arc de Triomphe monument, which was defaced with anti-Macron graffiti last Saturday, when rioters also torched dozens of cars and looted shops in the worst rioting in Paris since May 1968.

A police spokeswoman told reporters there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees boulevard. Large groups of people spilled into other areas and heading to eastern Paris, where a march against climate change was scheduled for the afternoon. Some also temporarily blocked the ring road circling central Paris. (Agencies)

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