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Paris yellow vest protest descends into violence

Cars and motorbikes were set on fire by protesters, while riot police used tear gas to try and break up the crowds.

A man bangs a drum in front of a fire on the street during a yellow vest demonstration in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)
A man bangs a drum in front of a fire on the street during a yellow vest demonstration in Paris (Michel Euler/AP)

Dozens of motorbikes and cars have been set on fire in eastern Paris as a yellow vest protest descended into violence.

Riot police fired tear gas to try and disperse the protesters around the Place de la Republique, but demonstrators responded by starting fires and throwing flares and paving stones.

Boarded up shops in the area were attacked by some radical protesters, and police repeatedly charged as they tried to contain the crowd.

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A protester throws a scooter on to a pile of burning motorbikes in eastern Paris (Michel Euler/AP)

Several thousand people had marched to the square from France’s Finance Ministry.

French television showed images of volunteer medics treating a yellow-vested protester lying on the ground, with the smell of tear gas mixed with black smoke choking the air.

Witnesses reported seeing at least two journalists injured in the melee.

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The air was thick with black smoke (Michel Euler/AP)

The Paris police headquarters said authorities had detained 126 people by early afternoon. More than 11,000 people were earlier subjected to spot checks while trying to enter the capital for the protests.

Multiple protests are being held around Paris and other French cities on Saturday for the 23rd weekend of the yellow vest movement against wealth inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership.

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Riot police had fired tear gas at protesters in a bid to disperse them (Francisco Seco/AP)

Protesters have also voiced frustration that the effort to save fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral is eclipsing the yellow vest movement’s demands.

Many protesters were deeply saddened by the fire at the national monument. But at the same time they are angry at the one billion US dollars (£770 million) in Notre Dame donations that poured in from tycoons while their own demands remain largely unmet and they struggle to make ends meet.

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A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at police (Michel Euler/AP)

Mr Macron had been scheduled to lay out his responses to yellow vest concerns on Monday night – but cancelled the speech because the fire broke out.

He is now expected to do so next Thursday.

Yellow vest critics accuse Mr Macron of trying to exploit the fire for political gain – one group marching on Saturday even accused Macon of “burning down Notre Dame”.

PA

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