One dead, dozens arrested as police fire tear gas at ‘yellow vest’ protesters in France and Belgium

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Posted

December 16, 2018 07:20:36

French police have fired tear gas across Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris and protesters have scuffled with police outside the city’s opera house in the fifth straight weekend of protests by the “yellow vests” movement.

Key points:

  • Anti-government “yellow vest” protests enter their fifth weekend
  • A total of seven deaths have occurred since the demonstrations began
  • President Emmanuel Macron has called for calm

Belgian police said a man died after he crashed his car into a truck at a protesters’ roadblock on the Franco-Belgian border.

He was the seventh person to die in a wave of anti-government demonstrations against the high cost of living.

Paris police said 85 people were detained and of those, 46 people had been arrested.

Saturday saw mostly peaceful anti-Government protests in the French capital but violence broke out at its margins, as groups of yellow vests tried to break through police lines.

There were clashes at the Paris Opera, where some demonstrators had gathered to voice their grievances.

French police unleashed repeated discharges of tear gas along Paris’s premier shopping street, although the back-and-forth fell short of previous violence that had scarred the avenue with broken windows and looted stores.

Close by, a handful of topless activists from the feminist protest group Femen faced security forces a few meters away from the Elysee Palace, the residence of President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Macron on Friday called for calm during the demonstrations.

“France needs calm, order and a return to normal,” Mr Macron said, after a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

About 8,000 police and 14 armoured vehicles were deployed in Paris for the demonstration, after similar protests in recent weekends turned violent.

The Interior Minister said about 69,000 police were active with a reinforced presence in the cities of Toulouse, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne.

Protest numbers were lower than in previous demonstrations.

According to official figures, 33,500 protesters had been counted in France by 11:00pm AEST, compared to 77,000 at the same time on December 8.

AP/Reuters

Topics:

world-politics,

community-and-society,

france



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