Tear gas as French protests turn violent

BY: BBC
Protesters surged forward before tear gas was fired
Protesters surged forward before tear gas was fired

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?

Laurent Nunez, a junior interior minister, said 31,000 people were taking part in Saturday's demonstrations, of which 8,000 were in or around Paris. Up to 5,000 are on the Champs-Elysées.

The ministry said similar protests last Saturday drew 136,000 people countrywide.

There have been a few confrontations, with police firing tear gas at protesters.

Bins have been set on fire on the Champs-Elysées and water cannon deployed on a street east of the city centre.

TV pictures have shown what appear to be far-right groups setting up barricades. Armoured vehicles are being sent to deal with them, and French media say this is the first time they have been deployed in metropolitan Paris.

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