Yellow vest protests turn violent amid clashes between police, protesters

A protester stands on a burning barricade during a demonstration by the

Police had arrested more than 80 protesters by mid afternoon as demonstrators looted stores around the Champs Elysees and ransacked the high-end Fouquet's restaurant.

A restaurant on fire during clashes between riot police and "gilets jaunes" on the Champs-Elysees, Paris on 16 March.

Rioters set fire to a bank and ransacked stores on Paris' landmark shopping street in a new flare-up of violence as France's yellow vest protests against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms entered a fourth month. Riot police then retreated, as did a water cannon, with protesters kicking the side of the large truck.

A Banque Tarneaud branch spewed flames before firefighters arrived and rescued a woman and her infant from the building, with 11 suffering minor injuries, the fire department said. Rescuers had to evacuate people on the remaining six floors of the building.

Mr Laurent Casanova, an engineer who was among the protesters, said he had come to mark the end of the national debate.

Protest organizers had hoped to make a splash Saturday, which marks the 4-month anniversary of yellow vest movement that started November 17.

How did the violence start?

The violence started 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. Two newspaper kiosks were also set ablaze by the protestors.

Several protesters smiled as they posed for a photo in front of one the kiosk's charred remains.

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As demonstrators targeted symbols of the luxury industry, shops including those of the brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste were smashed up and pillaged, and mannequins thrown out of the broken windows.

A posh eatery called Fouquet's, which is associated with politicians and celebrities, was vandalised and set on fire.

Thousands of people converged on the Champs-Elysees - focal point of the Paris protests over the past four months - for "Act XVIII" of a movement which had appeared to be running out of steam but whose core demands still enjoy broad public support.

What started out last November as a backlash against Mr Macron's plan to hike fuel taxes has swelled into a wider movement against the government for ignoring the hardship faced by poorer households in France.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on French television that an estimated 10,000 yellow vest protesters were in Paris and another 4,500 protesters were demonstrating around France.

After dwindling numbers in recent weekend protests, yellow vest groups organized dozens of rallies and marches Saturday in the capital and around.

But on Saturday the protesters were out in force again, pouring into the capital by train and cars from around the country for what they called an "ultimatum" to Macron.

"Those who participated in this great debate are mostly retirees and upper middle class, meaning Macron's electorate, even though we understood this great national debate was supposed to respond to the yellow vest crisis", lawyer and protester Francois Boulo told Europe-1 radio.

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