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Paris on lockdown for gilets jaunes protests

08 December 2018

Paris police have fired tear gas on a group of yellow-vested protesters trying to march on the French presidential palace and have pushed them back with shields.

Last weekend, more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested in the worst street violence seen in Paris in decades. An Elysee official has said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital "to vandalize and to kill".

He called on the government to boost people's spending power and increase taxes on the wealthiest. More than 500 people have been arrested.

By about 0845 GMT police said there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees.

The operators of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and Orsay museums said they would be closed, along with operas, theatres, libraries and major department stores.

A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday.

Defending the treatment of the children, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner aid: "Over the past few days, the students have been joined by about 100 hooded youths armed with clubs and incendiary devices and determined to pick a fight with police".

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"These past three weeks have produced a monster that its creators no longer control", Castaner said, vowing "zero tolerance" towards those aiming to wreak further destruction.

The government later scrapped the plan but the yellow vest protesters were not placated.

After the meeting a spokesperson from the movement, Christophe Chalencon, said Philippe had "listened to us and promised to take our demands to the president".

About 8,000 police will be deployed across Paris, equipped with a dozen barricade-busting armored vehicles that could be used for the first time in a French urban area since riots in 2005.

The measures include mobilizing 8,000 police officers in the French capital and closing such famous sites as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum.

Foreign governments are watching developments closely in one of the world's most visited cities.

As it did last weekend, the U.S. Embassy advised Americans to avoid the demonstrations.

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The "gilets jaunes" protesters, so-called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law, initially complained at a sharp increase in diesel taxes. In response, "Macron, resign!" has become the main slogan of the "yellow vest" demonstrators.

Four people have died in accidents during the protests and political leaders have appealed for calm.

Protests at dozens of schools over stricter university entrance requirements, and a call by farmers for demonstrations next week, have added to a sense of a government under siege.

Prized Paris monuments and normally bustling shopping meccas were locked down at the height of the holiday shopping season as protesters condemned President Emmanuel Macron and France's high taxes.

Arguing that such a move was necessary in order to boost investment and create jobs, the former investment banker has so far ruled out reimposing the "fortune tax".

"[This is] a president who believes in the European project, who has grandiose ideas about the world, who cuts taxes for the rich and the puts up the cost of filling up your auto or van for those on lower incomes", Farage said.

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Paris on lockdown for gilets jaunes protests