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French yellow vest protests staged amid enhanced security

Authorities also deployed soldiers to protect sensitive sites and allow police forces to focus on maintaining order during the protests.

Police guard at Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)
Police guard at Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)

The French government vowed to strengthen security as yellow vest protesters stage a 19th round of demonstrations, in an effort to avoid a repeat of last week’s riots in Paris.

Authorities banned protests from the capital’s Champs-Elysees avenue and central areas of several cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Nice in the south, and Rouen in western France.

In Paris, some yellow vests protesters gathered on Trocadero plaza, next to the Eiffel Tower.

Others issued calls for a demonstration from the Denfert-Rochereau plaza, in southern Paris, to tourist hotspot Montmartre in the north.

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French soldiers patrol at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

The new Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, who took charge following last week’s protests, said specific police units have been created to react faster to any violence.

About 6,000 police officers are deployed in the capital and two drones are helping to monitor the demonstrations.

Authorities also deployed soldiers to protect sensitive sites and allow police forces to focus on maintaining order during the protests.

President Emmanuel Macron on Friday dismissed criticism from opposition leaders regarding the involvement of the military.

“Those trying to scare people, or to scare themselves, are wrong,” he said in Brussels.

The French government announced new security measures this week and replaced the Paris police chief with Mr Lallement following riots on the Champs-Elysees that left luxury stores ransacked and charred from arson fires.

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A protester stand in front of a barricade on fire during a yellow vests demonstration last week (Christophe Ena/AP)

Last week’s surge in violence came as the four-month-old anti-government movement has been dwindling.

The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader rejection of Mr Macron’s economic policies, which protesters say favour businesses and the wealthy over ordinary French workers.

The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.

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