Yellow vest riots: Paris woman pepper sprayed in face by police

Yellow vest riots: Paris woman pepper sprayed in face by police

Cars have been torched and litter the streets.

Amid heightened tensions, police seized 28 petrol bombs and three homemade explosive devices Friday at an area blockaded by protesters in Montauban in southern France, a spokesman for the Tarn-et-Garonne prefecture told CNN. A ring of steel surrounded the Elysee Palace itself as police stationed trucks and reinforced steel barriers in streets throughout the entire neighborhood.

He said the protests had "created a monster" and vowed a zero-tolerance approach by police to violence. Angry protesters on Saturday tried to rip the boards off.

Earlier in Brussels, police used pepper spray and scuffled with a small group of protesters who tried to break through a barricade blocking access to the European Parliament and the European Union's other main institutions. By 8:40 am (0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people.

Fearing increasing violence, hundreds of businesses planned to close Saturday, preferring to lose a key holiday shopping day rather than have stores smashed and looted, like they were a week ago when protests over rising taxes turned into a riot. The city subway system was shut down in the centre of town.

Paris is on lockdown as armed police braced for another confrontation with "yellow vest" protestors in a fourth weekend of demonstrations over living costs.

Mr Macron agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, but that has not defused the anger, embodied by the fluorescent safety vests French motorists are required to keep in their cars.

The climbdown over the fuel tax - meant to help France transition to a greener economy - marks a major departure for Macron, who has previously vowed not to be swayed, like previous presidents, by large street protests.

One difference this week, in contrast to prior weeks, was an escalation of violence in cities and regions outside of Paris.

Paris police fired tear gas and water cannons at some violent protesters in clashes on the Champs-Elysees, as the crowd of demonstrators in Paris grew to 8,000 Saturday.

Some protesters Saturday attempted to block the Porte Maillot dual carriageway, which is a toll-free route into Paris.

Protestors wrapped in French flags lie on the ground near riot police on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris. At least two protesters were detained by police in central Amsterdam.

Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.

Anticipating a repeat of last weekend's violence, monuments including the Eiffel Tower and numerous French capital's metro stations remained closed with about 8,000 police on the streets of Paris with tens of thousands more deployed across the country.

France's far left CGT movement has pledged support for the movement, which is also supported by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. "But I still want to be here to say 'Stop, that's enough, this has to stop'".

ASSOCIATED PRESS Demonstrators vandalise a branch of American coffee chain Starbucks in Paris, France.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner gave very different orders this week compared to the three previous weeks. "We know that the violent people are only strong because they hide themselves within the yellow vests, which hampers the security forces", he said Saturday.

Since the unrest began November 17 in response to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents. Christmas markets, national soccer matches and countless other events have been canceled or hurt by the protests.

Gendarmerie armored vehicles and vans parked during a "yellow vests" protest at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, December 8, 2018. Offshoot movements have emerged elsewhere, and yellow-vest protests were held Saturday in Belgium and the Netherlands.