Police in Paris have fired tear gas on protesters as the fourth weekend of anti-government protests took a turn for the worst with violence breaking out in the heart of the French capital with protesters and police clashing.
Thousands of yellow vests gathered in the city centre with authorities scrambling over 8000 police officers along with 12 armoured vehicles and deployed them in Paris, a further 90,000 have been deployed in France as a whole.
Last week, hundreds of people were arrested and scores injured in violent clashes, Paris is seeing some of the worst street clashes in the French capital for decades.
Some of the capitals most iconic tourist attractions have been closed,
The operator of the Eiffel Tower said the threat of violent protests on Saturday made it impossible to ensure “adequate security conditions”.
City authorities have been stepping up protection for famous landmarks after the Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week during protests.
Culture Minister Franck Riester said the Louvre and Orsay museums, opera houses and the Grand Palais complex were among sites that would be closed he said: “We cannot take the risk when we know the threat.”
French football Matches have been cancelled, France’s Ligue 1 body said that the matches had been cancelled at the request of local police.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he expected fewer protesters than last weekend, he said: “Ten thousand is not the people – it’s not France,” he claimed the protests have been “hijacked” saying:
“According to the information we have, some radicalised and rebellious people will try to get mobilised. Some ultra-violent people want to take part.”
President Emmanuel Macron’s ratings have fallen amid the crisis.
He is planning a national address next week, his office has said, some have criticised him for keeping a low profile while the protests unfold. He did visit a police barracks outside Paris to show his support for officers on Friday.
The French government has conceded and said it is scrapping the unpopular fuel tax increases in its budget and has frozen electricity and gas prices for 2019, but protests and mass rallies erupted over other issues such as some protesters are calling for higher wages, lower taxes, better pensions, easier university requirements and the resignation of the president.
Some of his President Macrons critics call him “the president of the rich”.