French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said there are 7,000-8,000 demonstrators in the capital of which 1,500 are ‘ultra-violent ones that are there to smash things up’
BLOODY violence erupted in Paris today as marauding protesters calling for French President Emmanuel Macron’s head brought terror and carnage to the capital.
Teargas and baton charges were used by fired-up riot cops on a so-called ‘Act XVIII’ Day of Rage organised by the fearless Yellow Vest movement.
Fighting broke out on the Champs Elysee, the most famous avenue in the under-siege city, by 11am, when there had already been 25 arrests.
As demonstrators targeted symbols of the luxury industry, shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste were smashed, pillaged and burned.
A posh diner called Fouquet’s, long associated with politicians and celebrities, was also trashed and set ablaze by the rampaging hordes who quickly turned Paris into a warzone.
A vehicle burned outside luxury boutique Kenzo, one of many blazes on and around the famous Champs Elysees.
The violence kicked off when protesters threw smoke bombs and other objects at officers along the famed avenue scene of repeated past rioting and started pounding on the windows of a police van.
Riot police then retreated, with protesters kicking the side of the large truck and they screamed for Macron to resign.
“Gangs are targeting police, and carrying out numerous acts of vandalism,” said an officer at the scene.
“Fires are being lit, including in cars. Thousands are arriving all over the city, and we are already extremely stretched.”
Protests were not just organised by the Yellow Vests – who are named after their high visibility motoring jackets – but by climate change protestors.
All were attempting to close in on the Elysee Palace, Macron’s official home, but were held back by barriers and rows of police.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said there are 7,000-8,000 demonstrators in Paris on Saturday of which 1,500 are “ultra-violent ones that are there to smash things up.”
Pushing a hard line, Castaner ordered police to retaliate against these “inadmissible” acts, condemning those who “call for violence and are here to ferment chaos in Paris.”
Around 12 members of the Yellow Vest movement have died at blockades organised at major roads around France, while hundreds of others have been injured in rioting.
The Vests have been protesting since November 17 last year and, despite a range of concessions by Macron including scrapping green taxes of diesel and petrol, continue to call for him to step down.
Many have been arrested, including some 700 who were held in custody on a single day in Paris last December.
Mounted police, water cannons, and 14 armoured vehicles capable of spreading high-intensity gas were today all on standby as part of the security operation.
They have failed to prevent widespread disorder over the past few weekends, with the worst violence normally coming at nightfall.
The Vests have been joined by extremists from the far Right and the ultra-Left, as well as anarchists intent on causing as much damage as possible.
Crisis-ridden Mr Macron has not only climbed down on imposing green surcharges, but increased the national minimum wage by seven per sent, and scrapped tax on bonuses.
But the Yellow Vests said their protests would continue indefinitely as they campaign for even more concessions.
Independent Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, but he is now dubbed the ‘President of the Rich’.